"The Apple Watch helped me find out"
A doctor helped save a plane passenger’s life by using a flight attendant’s Apple Watch.
Dr Rashid Riaz, of Hereford, was on a Ryanair flight, travelling from Birmingham to Verona for a skiing holiday.
But during the journey on January 9, 2024, the elderly woman experienced shortness of breath.
The cabin crew then asked whether there was a healthcare worker on board.
Dr Riaz came forward to help.
The woman, aged in her 70s, did not initially respond to Dr Riaz’s questions but after discovering she had a history of heart issues, he asked the flight attendant for her Apple Watch to gauge her blood oxygen levels.
The doctor knew the smartwatch could further assist his medical inquiries.
He sought one from the staff member because he was not wearing his own device.
Dr Riaz explained: “The Apple Watch helped me find out the patient had low oxygen saturation.”
The Apple website states measurements taken with the Blood Oxygen app were not intended for medical use and are only designed for “general fitness and wellness purposes”.
Apple is also in a patent dispute with medical technology company Masim over the software and recently revealed it would release Series 9 and Ultra 2 Apple Watches without the blood oxygen feature to keep them on shelves.
BBC reported that after Dr Riaz obtained the Apple Watch, he then requested an onboard oxygen cylinder.
This allowed the medic to monitor and maintain the woman’s saturation levels until they safely landed in Italy approximately one hour later.
Dr Riaz said the patient quickly recovered and she was handed over to medical staff, walking off the plane with their assistance.
“I used a lot of my own learning during this flight on how to use the gadget.”
“It is a lesson in how we can improve in-flight journeys [with] this sort of emergency [via] a basic gadget which nowadays is easily available.”
Dr Riaz, who works at Hereford County Hospital, praised Ryanair staff for the way they dealt with the emergency.
However, the doctor called on all airlines to consider having emergency physician kits as standard.
Ideally, this would include tools to take basic measurements, diabetic and blood pressure meters, and an oxygen saturation monitor.
He added: “These things can save someone’s life in an emergency situation.”