A woman on her way to Cleveland Clinic was saved mid-flight by a doctor from the clinic after she had a severe allergic reaction.
Ashley Spencer was on an American Airlines flight on Sunday, hoping that a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic could treat her condition, ABC News reports. The Philadelphia native has eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), a very rare autoimmune disease that results in inflammation in her blood vessels. Spencer was on her way to find treatment in Cleveland, but it was her peanut allergy that almost killed her.
The 28-year-old Spencer had consumed a bag of chips before boarding her flight. In an interview, she thinks the food may have triggered an allergic reaction. Once she got on the plane, Spencer passed out and began to go into anaphylactic shock. She said she stopped breathing, but she did still have a pulse.
Flight attendants called for any medical professionals on board, and Dr. Erich Kiehl stepped up to attend to Spencer. Kiehl is an electrophysiology fellow who happens to be working at the Cleveland Clinic. Along with a doctor from North Carolina who was also on the plane, they injected Spencer with an EpiPen four times.
Spencer said, “When a person is going into anaphylactic shock it has to be taken seriously. Having Dr. Kiehl on board was so important. He was monitoring the heart completely.”
Spencer said that her heart is already weak because of her autoimmune condition, and having a doctor on board willing to help and monitor her vital signs may have saved her life.
I am beyond thankful. I could have died up there.
The plane made an emergency landing in Pittsburgh, where Spencer was rushed to a nearby hospital and spent the night at the ICU. She will continue on to Cleveland Clinic when she recovers in the hopes that she can enroll in a clinical trial to treat EGPA.