Cortland doctor in the right place at the right time to save a life

Local News

CORTLAND, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Going to Columbia was a trip Dr. Darshan Patel had been looking forward to.

“There was a bunch of us – most of them are docs like me, friends, who were kind of going to do a reunion trip that we planned over two years ago,” said Dr. Patel. “Then the pandemic hit.”

The trip finally happened. But, on his flight home last week, “The pilot comes on overhead and says ‘is there a doctor on board?’ It’s one of those situations you see on TV,” Dr. Patel explained. But this was real life.

Dr. Patel, who works in Internal Medicine at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, did not hesitate to help a fellow passenger, having a seizure. The plane had a medical kit, allowing him to take vitals.

“Her blood pressure, I believe from what I recall from in notes was 260s over about 160,” Patel explained, “A normal blood pressure is 120 over 80.”

That kit also had critical medication.

“She was in a life-threatening situation and we had to help her,” he noted, “Even if we had ground the plane, that would have been another hour, hour and a half to land. And if we didn’t get the pressure lower and we didn’t stop the seizures, she could’ve had a massive stroke or heart attack.”

Maybe it was fate, a higher power or him just being in the right place at the right time on that flight.

“It’s pretty amazing to me that we delayed our trip three times, and then my flight got delayed on the day of my trip and I ended up on the same trip as this family,” Patel recalled.

Whatever it was, he was glad it got him there. It’s part of his calling as a doctor.

“It’s really what we live for – every physician, nurse, anybody in healthcare, we live for the moments where we can save somebody’s life,” Dr. Patel said.

Dr. Patel said once the flight landed, the passenger was taken away so quickly to the hospital that he did not get her information to check-in on her. Hopes she is doing well and recovering.

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