Charlotte doctor saves man's life in mid-flight

by: Peter Daut Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

A Charlotte doctor and fellow passengers jumped into action Friday night after a California man suffered a seizure on a jet in midair more than an hour away from Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

For allergy specialist Dr. Maeve O'Connor, life-threatening situations are rare, but during a recent flight from Phoenix to Charlotte, the passenger directly in front of her suddenly suffered a seizure.

O'Connor said the 70-year-old man became unresponsive and didn't have a pulse.

"He was dead, and I was just thinking of all the protocols you do to save someone's life," O'Connor said.

O'Connor laid the man down in the emergency exit row and began giving him CPR with help from other passengers aboard U.S. Airways flight 1854.

After an unsuccessful attempt, they grabbed a defibrillator and placed the paddles on his chest.

O'Connor said she checked his pulse one more time right before shocking him.

"We found a pulse," O'Connor said. "He had a bounding pulse, so definitely the chest compressions brought him back."

Soon after, the pilot made an emergency landing in Nashville, where Thomas Lecoq was taken to the hospital.

Doctors determined he had been severely dehydrated, which threw his electrolytes out of balance.

"I've been given probably the best Christmas gift that is possible to get, which is an extension of your time here," Lecoq said.

The grandfather said from his home in California he has yet to speak with O'Connor -- the stranger in the sky he said helped save his life.

"God bless her," he said.

O'Connor said all the passengers on the flight applauded her and were grateful for her efforts.

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