Category: Current Affairs
Published on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 00:00
Written by Cheryl Teo Kai Lin
Dr Low Lee Yong had just spent a magical holiday with his wife chasing the northern lights from Iceland to Tromso in Norway and was ready to return home, but little did he know that his adventures have not yet come to a close. While on the flight back to Singapore, Dr Low found himself having to handle a medical emergency that involved a 2-year-old boy and a diverted international plane.
Dr Low wrote about the turn of events on his facebook page which has garnered over 24,000 likes and 8,000 shares. On 3 Jan 2016, Dr Low and his wife were on board a KLM flight which departed from Amsterdam to Singapore. As he was preparing to tuck himself in for the long 12 hour journey, he heard a faint but desperate plea for a doctor on board.
Dr Low turned around and saw a mother in distress craddling an unconscious 2-year-old boy. Wasting no time, he approached the mother and son and informed her that he is a doctor. According to the founder of MHC Asia Group, which manages a network of over 1,200 clinics in Singapore, the toddler was hanging limply in his mother's arms, and Dr Low quickly moved him to an open area.
The worried mother had no clue to what could have caused the boy to become unconscious. Dr Low checked his vital signs and to his relief, found that they were still strong, but he was running a high fever of 38.6 degree Celsius.
Dr Low removed the boy's layers of clothing and gave him an ice-cold sponge bath to bring his temperature down. He also put the boy on oxygen from a resuscitation kit provided by the cabin crew. After half an hour of relentless sponging, the boy came to and he started to cry.
"The child probably had a febrile fit," said Dr Low. This is common among young children and usually happens when they have high fevers of 38.5 degree Celsius or more.
By this time, two other doctors had arrived at the scene to provide assistance – an elderly male Caucasian who is an Internist and a female Asian who is an ICU specialist. Since Dr Low was a family doctor, a general practioner in Singapore, both deemed him best to handle this situation.
While the two doctors discussed the boy's condition amongst themselves, Dr Low continued wiping the boy down with cold wet wipes all over his chest, neck and forehead. The two doctors eventually came to the consensus that given the long flight ahead, it was best to evacuate the boy at the nearest airport.
Dr Low returned the boy to his mother after his temperature subsided with instructions for her to continue the sponging. The captain explained the situation and told all 315 passengers on board that he had to made an emergency landing at Bucharest airport in Romania due to the boy's medical condition.
65,000 liters of fuel was dumped for emergency landing, and 315 passengers had to wait around four hours with many definitely missing their connecting flights. However, not a grumble was heard from the crew or passengers, they were all extremely patient and understanding of the toddler's plight, and in these circumstances, the safety and wellbeing of the little boy was placed top priority.
Dr Low was in awe of the crew for their professionalism and efficiency with handling the matter. “The Captain kept everyone updated regularly and thankedeveryone for their patience and understanding. I must compliment him and his crew for their professionalism and KLM for putting the safety and well being of the passengers as their priority.”
This is not the first time that Dr Low encountered a lift and death situation. Just less than two months before this incident, the good doctor saved a toddler's life at the Temasek Club in Rifle Range Road after he nearly drowned. Dr Low held the boy upside down after he had been pulled out of the pool in an attempt to drain water from his lungs before performing CPR, after the boy's face, lips and hands had turned purple from the lack of oxygen.
He said: "That impression of the boy who almost drowned in a pool has still not cleared from my mind."
But he added: "As a doctor who has been trained to handle emergencies, you just have to do what you are trained for."
Kudos to Dr Low and everyone on board KLM Flight KL835 for restoring our faith in humanity!
Check out Dr Low's original facebook post below.