Passenger Forgets Auto-Injector, Nearly Dies Mid-Flight to London


A passenger aboard an El Al flight from Tel Aviv to London avoided tragedy thanks to the quick thinking of a nurse and a doctor aboard the flight.

Registered Nurse Ruti Orlevitz told Ynet that she noticed a passenger aboard was in distress, showing signs of an allergic reaction after eating his meal containing fish shortly following takeoff.

“I saw that he was all red, having difficulty breathing, with swelling in his neck and face. Within a short time, I diagnosed him with an allergic attack,” Orlevitz explained.

Epinephrine is the only drug that can halt and reverse the progression of anaphylaxis, a serious life-threatening allergic reaction. Unfortunately, the man had forgotten to take his aboard.

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A flight attendant called out for a doctor, prompting Dr Jacob Segal, a gynecologist, to step forward.

“We assessed the available equipment on the plane and immediately began life-saving treatment with it,” Dr Segal explained. “Initially, we weren’t sure if an emergency landing was necessary, but we started with the equipment we had.”

Some airlines carry epinephrine auto-injectors, simple-to-operate devices that require little training. This flight only had vials of epinephrine and syringes aboard which require administration by a trained professional that may or may not be aboard at the time of the emergency.

The doctor injected epinephrine from the plane’s emergency medical kit and administered oxygen. Dr Segal said it took four hours for the man to stabilize completely until shortly before the plane landed.

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The flight was met by an ambulance, taking the man to a nearby hospital where he made a complete recovery. He visited nurse Orlevitz to thank her a few days later.

We urge everyone who has been prescribed epinephrine to always take two auto-injectors along everywhere, every time, period, full stop. Epinephrine is your lifeline when anaphylaxis strikes and must be administered soon after onset to affect the best outcome. However, it can’t save your life if you leave it at home or in your checked baggage. Always be sure to carry it onboard whenever you travel and administer a dose when you first suspect anaphylaxis.

If your symptoms do not subside within a few minutes, administer the second while waiting for emergency services to arrive.

Last December, three US Senators wrote to FAA administrator Michael Whitaker demanding stock epinephrine auto-injectors be mandated on flights. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, and Ed Markey, insisted there is a “glaring gap” in current requirements for emergency medical kits required onboard flights that “puts airline passengers at risk.”

Last April, Dr Lindsey Ulin was aboard a Southwest Airlines flight when she suffered anaphylaxis. Luckily, another doctor was aboard who administered epinephrine via vial and syringe as Ulin had not been diagnosed with a food allergy before and did not carry an auto-injector.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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