Emergency Service Volunteer Saves Anaphylactic Teen’s Life Aboard Flight to New York


Yesterday, Dr Natan Ungar, a volunteer United Hatzalah emergency service doctor, came to the aid of a 16-year-old teen who was in the throes of anaphylaxis aboard an El Al flight from Israel to New York.

Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to a food, drug, insect venom, or environmental substance.

The boy’s throat was closing and he was having difficulty breathing as a result of an allergic reaction to something he ate aboard the flight. Upon his mother alerting the crew, flight attendants asked if there was a medical professional aboard. Ungar stepped forward to help.

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Although the passenger was carrying an epinephrine auto-injector, Ungar noticed it had expired. He requested the plane’s emergency medical kit from the flight attendants which contained a vial of epinephrine and a syringe. He administered the drug — the only drug that can halt and reverse the progression of anaphylaxis — and the teen’s condition immediately began to improve and his breathing returned to normal.

Dr Natan Ungar

After the boy’s condition stabilized, the decision was made not to divert and to continue the flight to JFK.

“I’m glad I was in the plane and able to help”, said Dr Ungar.  

United Hatzalah is an emergency medical service based in Israel. The organization also conducts humanitarian missions worldwide in response to wars and natural disasters.

We are grateful tragedy was averted and the boy survived, thanks to the quick action of Dr Ungar. We wish both well and welcome them to the US.

If you have been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector, please remember to take two along with you everywhere, every time, especially on flights where epinephrine may not be available or accessible.

And be sure to check the expiration dates of your auto-injectors periodically to make sure they are current. Although an expired auto-injector is better than none, you don’t want to take the chance that the medication won’t work sufficiently.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of SnackSafely.com.

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