- Dr. Kashif Chaudhry of Pennsylvania was headed to Arizona when a 28-year old woman suffered cardiac arrest.
When Dr. Kashif Chaudhry boarded a plane from Williamsport, Pennsylvania to Phoenix, Arizona, early last month, little did he know that work would beckon him at 35,000 feet up in the air. The Pakistani American cardiac electrophysiologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center saved the life of a fellow passenger who suffered from a cardiac arrest.
Brittany Mateiro, 28, was flying with six of her girlfriends for a bachelorette party. When she woke up with a seizure after a nap, her friends altered the flight attendant, who announced there was a medical emergency and asked for a doctor. Chaudhry, who was traveling with his wife Dr. Naila Shereen, and another physician Dr. Charles Koo, sprang into action and ran to the back of the plane to find the young woman slumped over in her seat. “She was completely unresponsive,” Chaudhry told NorthcentralPA.com.
In a series of tweets, Chaudhry recalled the incident. As he was administering CPR, a line of volunteers was formed to take over after he completed the first two-minute stretch. He was focused on pushing the blood through Mateiro’s body, keeping her brain supplied with oxygen and preventing her organs from shutting down.
Chaudhry was just about to allow the next person to begin CPR when Mateiro’s body began to move. He immediately checked again for a pulse. He estimated that Mateiro had been without a pulse for at least one minute. Two minutes or more could have caused brain damage and organ failure.
It took about 90 seconds to revive Mateiro, who had no previous health problems and exercised three days a week. The plane was detoured to Oklahoma where an ambulance was waiting to take her to the hospital.
Mateiro met Chaudhry a few weeks after the incident on NBC’s Today show and thanked him for helping save her. “I closed my eyes and went to sleep and that’s the last thing I remember until I woke up and I was in a stretcher by the plane going into an ambulance,” she said. Since the incident, she said she hasn’t experienced any major symptoms. “I’m feeling good,” she shared. “I had a little chest soreness because CPR is pretty tolling on your body. But, I feel great.”
Chaudhry called the experience “surreal.” He told NBC that he has years of experience dealing with coding victims in the hospital, but he never expected to deal with it outside the hospital walls.
Meanwhile, he is using the incident to stress the importance of learning CPR. “It’s very understandable to be scared when someone is unresponsive,” he said. “You’re thinking maybe I’d hurt them but the American Heart Association states that the benefit of starting chest compressions to someone who is having a cardiac arrest far outweighs the risk to someone who doesn’t need it.”
According to his UMPC profile, Chaudhry specializes in electrophysiology and cardiology and is certified in cardiovascular disease, clinical cardiac electrophysiology and internal medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine. He completed his fellowships at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center and the University of Maryland Medical Center. He received his medical degree at King Edward Medical University and completed a residency at Englewood Hospital.