A couple of weeks ago we heard the remarkable news that the pilot of a Cessna Caravan light aircraft had passed out in mid-air, leaving a passenger who knew nothing about flying at all to land the plane with the advice and guidance of an air traffic controller on the ground. It was almost miraculous, and has been rightly celebrated.
Now more news is becoming available about what happened to the pilot.
The 64-year-old pilot of a small plane who became incapacitated, leaving his passenger with no flying experience to land the Cessna in Florida earlier this month, suffered a tear in his aorta, his surgeon said.
Dr. Nishant Patel, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, said in a news conference Thursday that Kenneth Allen’s recovery from the aortic dissection was remarkable.
. . .
An ambulance was waiting at the airport and Allen was taken first to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where he was suffering signs of a stroke that left the left side of his face droopy and the loss of movement on one side of his body.
Patel said when doctors discovered Allen needed complex cardiac care, he was transferred to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center.
When Allen arrived, he was “confused and lethargic,” Patel said. He then underwent a nine-hour procedure to correct the aortic dissection.
Patel and his team stopped the blood flow to every organ except Allen’s brain, which meant his body temperature was cooled.
“When you cool someone down that low, the clock is ticking,” Patel said. He said Allen had no excessive bleeding during the surgery or afterward.
“The moment that he was describing to his friends on the plane, ‘Hey guys, I don’t feel well. I have the worst headache of my life. I’m feeling fuzzy, dizzy.’ That is the exact event that the tear occurred in his aorta,” Patel said. “To be able to survive that acute event was really quite remarkable.”
There’s more at the link.
Aortic dissection, as it’s known, is a very dangerous condition indeed. If the aorta (the main artery in the body, leading from the heart to other organs) tears, blood pressure can force its inner and outer layers to separate; and if the outer layer is ruptured, allowing blood to escape into the thoracic cavity, death is almost inevitable (and usually rapid).
I think that pilot had better buy some lottery tickets. He’s very, very lucky to be alive.