A normal flight to Jamaica turned into a life-saving endeavor after two anesthesiologists created a makeshift medical ventilator to save an elderly woman who had gone into respiratory arrest.
Matthew Stevenson and John Flanagan were on a JetBlu flight in January when the senior started having trouble breathing. A nurse who also happened to be aboard the plane tried to help the woman recover – but nothing would relieve the breathing distress.
When Stevenson saw what was going on, he flagged down Flanagan for help. They asked the flight crew if they had a hand-operated manual resuscitator on board to pump oxygen into her lungs.
Because they did not, the doctors resolved to build their own.
As Flanagan conducted CPR on the woman, Stevenson reportedly cut off the tubing and airbag from one of the plane’s emergency masks in the ceiling and connected them to an on-board oxygen tank.
Using the makeshift ventilator to keep oxygen flowing into the woman’s lungs, the doctors – who both work at the same private practice in Florida – were able to keep the woman alive until the plane made an emergency landing in Fort Lauderdale 45 minutes later.
They weren’t the only passengers who leapt into action, either – many of the people surrounding the doctors prayed and held onto the men in order to make sure they did not fall over during the emergency landing. When medics rushed onto the plane to take over, the passengers gave a cheering round of applause to the two doctors.
Flanagan’s wife Xenia, who snapped some pictures of the ordeal, says that she felt honored to see her husband act so heroically.
“It was both amazing and terrifying at the same time to witness my husband and his friend do something they do everyday… save someone’s life,” Xenia wrote on Facebook. “It was beautiful to witness so many good Samaritans praying and holding them up during the entire ordeal. I’m so thankful God placed them there at the right time.
“I know I can speak for [Mrs.] Stevenson when I say how proud we are to be married to such great men,” she added.