‘Is there a doctor on board?’

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    Few human activities are as carbon-intensive as traveling by airplane. (Shutterstock image: xhttp://shutr.bz/17HoIxa)

    Few human activities are as carbon-intensive as traveling by airplane. (Shutterstock image: xhttp://shutr.bz/17HoIxa)

    A cross-country flight quickly turns into a medical student’s worst nightmare.

    As the long Thanksgiving weekend of 2014 drew to a close, fourth-year UPenn medical studen Daphne Owen boarded a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. She was ready for a peaceful, sleepy trip, but that was the opposite of what she got.

    “The plane took off, we were in the air for maybe 10 minutes, when all of a sudden I heard a scream in the back of the plane. It was high-pitched—the kind that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up a little bit. And then the stewardess came on the intercom, and she said, ‘Is there a doctor on the plane?’ My heart sunk and I thought, ‘Oh my god, is there a doctor on the plane? Because I’m not a doctor.’

    Owen eventually raised her hand and offered her services. What followed was what most med students would think of as the worst-case-scenario…a sick patient, no residents around to guide the decision-making process, and a pilot asking if he should perform an emergency landing.

    Owen told her wild-but-true tale to Pulse contributor Avir Mitra.

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