A brave dad rushed to the aid of a fellow British Airways passenger after she suffered a horrific injury that left her foot "hanging on by her skin".
The woman, thought to be a mum in her 50s, had a severe fracture with her bone sticking out and her ankle twisted at an odd angle.
Hemal Patel, 41, who had combat training from his time at The Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) 20 years ago, stepped up when cabin crew asked for passengers with medical training. Alongside a dermatologist and a retired professor specialising in infectious diseases, Hemal helped stabilise the woman's leg and "reset" her foot as the plane flew over the Atlantic Ocean towards London Gatwick.
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Hemal, travelling with his wife and nine-year-old son, told the Mirror: "Her foot was pretty much hanging on by the skin and tendons only. It required myself and a dermatologist to take control, reset her foot and splint it.
"We reset that leg with minimal pain relief and the kind of the noises that she was making were ghastlym but we managed to reset it. I splinted it and we stayed with her for for the duration of the flight couple of hours.
"We practiced on a cabin crew member for about 10 to 15 minutes, of me doing the pulling bit, and her (the dermatologist) doing the twisting bit, until she until we figured out how hard we were going to need to do this. We then told the poor lady that this is kind of what's going to happen and I gave her a leather belt to bite down on so she didn't break her teeth. The crew were fantastic too."
The software engineer was guided through the painful process via a satellite link to doctors in the US, established by quick-thinking crew and pilots on the BA flight. The dad, who recently qualified as a pilot and can fly small aircraft, staunched the woman's bleeding and elevated the leg before medics explained how to "reset" the limb. They also gave permission for morphine to be given to the woman, which is believed to be protocol.
Hemal, from Reading, said: "She doesn't really know how it happened. She wasn't drunk. She said she tripped and stumbled, but then what we think's happened is she's got herself a fracture by tripping, and then she's continued to walk on it to the toilet. A bone has just split, split through the skin. She's probably walked on it even more. She went to the toilet, and then she started feeling the pain and kind of fell out of the toilet.
"The message came requesting anyone with medical training. I just wanted to help in any way I could, but I told the flight attendant I have combat medical training, and they said 'that's actually perfect'. I went over and I was pretty horrified. What was in front of me, was just like just a bone sticking out of a leg at a very peculiar angle. So it was a very serious fracture."
Hemal understands that the woman was taken to hospital after landing back in the UK and has since undergone surgery to have plates and pins inserted into her leg.
A British Airways spokesperson said: "Our crews are trained to deal with these situations and we thank the medical professionals who assisted our teams on board."
* This article was crafted with the help of an AI tool, which speeds up Daily Star's editorial research. An editor reviewed this content before it was published. You can report any errors to [email protected]
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