Surgeon on Flight Drains Bladder of Elderly Passenger to Save His Life

Quick-thinking surgeons on board a flight from southern China had to improvise to save the life of an elderly passenger who had almost a litre of urine trapped in his bladder.

The unnamed passenger ran into trouble around 10 hours into the China Southern Airlines flight to New York on Tuesday, after complaining to cabin crew that he could not urinate.

With six hours to go before landing, Zhang Hong, from the First Affiliated Hospital of Jinan University in Guangzhou, and Xiao Zhanxiang, from Hainan Provincial People’s Hospital in Haikou, responded to a pilot’s call for medical assistance, the South China Morning Post reported, citing local sources.

The passenger was placed on the floor on his side and Zhang said he had to assess the situation quickly. He saw that there was a risk the bladder could rupture, with possibly fatal consequences.

He said: “The pensioner’s abdomen was bloated, he could not sit still and was sweating a lot. He was going into shock and may have suffered a risk to his life if we didn’t tend to him urgently.”

“His family said he had a history of prostate enlargement, so we suspected this was causing urinary retention,” The Mirror reported.

The doctors punctured the passenger’s bladder and improvised a makeshift catheter using a plastic tube from a portable oxygen cylinder, a syringe from the plane’s first-aid kit, a plastic straw from a milk carton and some tape.

However, Zhang discovered the syringe needle was too thin. He then siphoned out the urine using his mouth, sucking most of the fluid over half an hour and then spitting it out into an empty wine bottle.

“It was an emergency situation. I couldn’t figure out another way,” Zhang was quoted as saying.

“When I saw that the man could hardly bear the pain any more, my only thought was how to get the urine out of his bladder,” he added.

The passenger laid down for another half an hour to recover and was examined by a doctor upon landing.

In another dramatic mid-air incident, a drunk passenger tried to open the emergency door on board a plane to Thailand.

The Nordwind flight from Moscow to Phuket had to be diverted to Uzbekistan last month and the man was arrested. However, the second half of the flight saw passengers engage in an alcohol-fueled row and another person smoking in the toilets.

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