German doctor saves life of woman on flight to Israel

Orthopedic trauma expert is called by flight crew to treat woman suffering from thrombosis in her leg that could have killed her.

Passengers plane flight 311 (R) (photo credit: Vivek Prakash / Reuters)
Passengers plane flight 311 (R)
(photo credit: Vivek Prakash / Reuters)
A German surgeon who flew a day early to Israel to lecture on his specialty of orthopedic treatment for trauma, saved the life of an unnamed 65-yearold woman aboard the Lufthansa flight to Ben-Gurion Airport on Independence Day.
Prof. Christian Krettek of Hannover University Hospital was scheduled to attend a conference on new surgical technology at Ziv Medical Center in Safed. Krettek is considered a leading authority on the use of the navigator technique for orthopedic surgery.
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The conference begins on Thursday, but the German physician decided to come early to visit friends at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem. His hosts, who waited for him at the airport, learned that Krettek was late because he had on-board treated a fellow passenger who was in moderate-to-serious condition.
Ninety minutes before landing, a woman on the plane said she felt unwell, vomited and complained of pain in her leg. Then she collapsed. The flight crew called for a doctor and, noticing the German physician on the passenger list, asked him to help. He examined her and found that she had a dangerous thrombosis in her leg that could have clogged her coronary vessels.
Krettek injected her with the necessary medications on the plane, requested for an ambulance to meet her upon arrival, and kept watch until she was evacuated. He was certain that without immediate treatment on the flight, she could have died.
Krettek said it was the fourth time that he has treated patients while on a plane, but that this was the most difficult case he had ever encountered.
“I was happy I was on the flight because I had decided to arrive in Israel a day before I had planned,” he said.