How a Youtuber Saved Someone who had an Allergic Reaction on a Plane
Flying with food allergies can be a huge risk, especially when someone has an allergic reaction. While airlines do have policies on peanut snacks, it’s hard to find clear answers on if all planes carry EpiPens. Emergency kits do carry epinephrine, but not EpiPens. On a flight to Isreal, a youtuber and doctor named Mike, had to handle a fellow passanger having an allergic reaction without an EpiPen. Doctor Mike made a YouTube video talking about his experience on the flight.
About two hours into the flight, flight attendants asked for a medical professional and Doctor Mike stands up to the task. He gets over to the patient, Matt, who said his hands were beginning to swell. “He said he’s had an allergic reaction the night prior, but it wasn’t that bad.” Doctor Mike instructed him to take Benadryl and Prednisone that Matt had on him, and asked Matt to let him know if anything changes in his mouth and throat, to make sure he didn’t go into anaphylaxis.
Matt had not eaten on the plane and Doctor Mike suspects that it was red meat triggering the allergic reaction. Matt also claims he was bitten by a tick not too long ago. All these signs point towards meat allergies, which Matt could have developed from the tick bite.
Doctor Mike instantly started thinking about the scenarios that could happen. “What’s gonna happen if his throat starts swelling and we’re over the Atlantic Ocean? Well, we can’t land, so I would have to administer epinephrine… If the epinephrine or the EpiPen does not work, the next step would be to schedule a landing. And if the swelling continues to get worse, I would be forced to make an incision in this young man’s throat.” Coming to that possible scenario worried Doctor Mike, since he hadn’t performed that procedure since medical school.
A few minutes later, a flight attendant came over and said Matt was starting to have oral symptoms. He got ready to give Matt the epinephrine from the plane’s emergency kit. “When I break open the kit that was found on Delta’s plane, I was shocked because on the outside of the kit, it said epinephrine. There were no EpiPens… While it’s the same active ingredient, the dosages (of epinephrine) are different. Normally, you give either .3 milligrams or .5 milligrams during an anaphylactic reaction… Now, what was in Delta’s kit was an epinephrine injection kit for cardiac arrest.”
Since the dosages for epineprhine are different, Doctor Mike had to be very careful. He injected Matt with the epinephrine and instantly Matt was in pain. After a little while and some ice, the pain seemed to dwindle. According to Delta’s policies, if a medical professional was in charge and felt things were stable, they did not need to divert the plane. Through the rest of the flight, Doctor Mike checked in on Matt and his vitals to make sure the epinephrine was working. The rest of the flight had no complications and Matt was making a good recovery.
After landing, Doctor Mike said that “The passengers around me thanked me, but they didn’t thank me for saving this young man’s life… They thanked me for not diverting the plane and ruining their plans.” Doctor Mike wholeheartedly believes planes should have EpiPens on board to avoid situations like what he experienced. Along with trusting others to have their EpiPens, Doctor Mike says “Relying on the fact that there’s epinephrine for cardiac arrest on the plane is also not smart. Easily in the haste of an emergency, someone’s gonna take that, administer way too much, of a dose, and the person can die as a result.”
When flying, EpiPens are safe to take on carry on and check bags. Situations that Doctor Mike were in should not happen anymore. Hopefully with the public eye on this story, airplane companies should start listening and adding EpiPens to their emergency kits.