Two hours into the flight, she decided to take a nap and that is the last thing she remembers before having a heart attack.
Brittany Mateiro was flying from New Jersey to Arizona when her heart suddenly stopped beating. Luckily for the 28-year-old woman, there was a doctor on board the flight who immediately performed CPR on her and restarted her heart.
Dr. Kashif Chaudhry, a cardiac electrophysiologist at UPMC in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, was one of several physicians who jumped into action when the medical crisis began.
Now, Materio and Dr. Chaudhry are urging everyone to learn CPR to be ready to help when a cardiac arrest strikes, because this emergency can impact more younger Americans than people realize, according to TODAY.
"Anyone could have done this,” Dr. Chaudhry said about the successful mid-air resuscitation. “(But) even if we were not on the plane, the outcome should have been the same,” he noted.
“It’s so crazy. You always hear about CPR your whole life… but in the back of your head, you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m not really ever going to use this,’” said Mateiro, of Woodbridge, New Jersey. “I just can’t believe that it saved my life.”
Cardiac arrest at 35,000 feet: Doctor uses CPR to restart woman’s heart mid-flighthttps://t.co/TD1BFhILyh— Nikita 🎮 🥽 (@onyxgata) March 23, 2022
Mateiro was flying from Newark, New Jersey, to Phoenix, Arizona, to attend a bachelorette party on March 4, 2022. The woman, who works in finance for a cosmetics company, revealed she has never had any health issues before this incident, and described herself as an average 28-year-old who worked out three days a week and lived a normal lifestyle.
Two hours into the flight, she decided to take a nap and that is the last thing she remembers before having a heart attack. Around the same time, Dr. Chaudhry heard screams from the back of the plane and an urgent announcement from a flight attendant asking for any doctors or nurses on board to respond to a medical emergency.
Chaudhry, who was on his way to attend a cardiology conference in Arizona, rushed to Materio's seat. So did his wife, Naila Shereen, who is also a physician. They found Mateiro unresponsive, and slumped over in her seat, having seizure-like activity and with her eyes rolled back. Chaudhry checked for a pulse on her neck and wrist but didn't find any.
He requested fellow passengers to get the unresponsive woman out of her seat and onto a flat surface, but even then, there was no pulse, so Chaudhry knew she was in cardiac arrest and began chest compressions. Another cardiologist on board jumped to get the automated external defibrillator from the plane’s first-aid kit. But, when they applied it, the device advised against a shock, most likely because Mateiro’s heartbeat was coming back, Chaudhry said.
Eventually after a minute-and-a-half of compressions later, Mateiro began to move. The doctor once again checked her vital signs. “She had a great pulse. It was an amazing pulse,” he recalled. “She had no idea what was going on, she didn’t know where she was, she was completely disoriented.”
Then, the plane was diverted to Oklahoma, the nearest airport. As the flight was descending, the doctors sat next to Mateiro to monitor her condition. “I have one slight memory of looking over and seeing a woman I wasn’t familiar with holding my hand,” Mateiro recalled. It was Dr. Chaudhry’s wife.
“I was just in complete shock, I remember waiting to get into the ambulance outside the plane in a stretcher and my friends saying, ‘We’re going to the hospital,’ and I’m like, ‘What?’ I thought I was still dreaming.”
Luckily, the woman was discharged just hours after she was taken to the hospital. She was still in shock from what had happened. So she decided to return home to New Jersey the next day and didn’t make it to Arizona. Even though she's feeling fine now she's just worried it might happen to her again.
However, Mateiro has now signed up for a CPR class so she can be ready if someone else’s heart stops. She’s grateful to the fellow passengers who saved her life and tried to make her comfortable. “CPR is super important and something now I’m going to be a super advocate about,” she said.
Also, many people are intimidated by doing CPR because they fear they might be hurting someone who doesn't need it, Chaudhry noted. “It is important to realize that the benefit from doing CPR far outweighs the harm that you could do someone who does not need chest compressions,” he said. “The rule is: If there’s no sign of life, you start CPR. If there’s any sign of life, you stop CPR.”
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | myshkovsky