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'Even Engineers Can Save Lives': How an IIT Kanpur Student Saved a Man's Life on Air

How a quick-thinking engineering student saved a man's life on flight.

Anurag Verma | CNN-News18@kitAnurag

Updated:May 11, 2018, 2:48 PM IST
'Even Engineers Can Save Lives': How an IIT Kanpur Student Saved a Man's Life on Air
Image credits: IITKanpur / Twitter
A final year BTech student is making headlines for all the right reasons.

Karttikeya Mangalam, an IIT Kanpur student, says that the skills he acquired in college helped him save a man's life who suffered diabetes-related complications mid-air.

Opening up about the incident in the IIT's magazine, the 21-year-old recollects the incident that unfolded several thousand feet above the ground.

Mangalam was flying to New Delhi from Geneva Via Moscow when he heard an air hostess enquiring about a doctor onboard to deal with a medical emergency.

When Mangalam saw a doctor rushing toward the struggling passenger, he decided to join him.

"I went to the person’s seat to help since I was one of his neighbours in the flight," he wrote.

The 30-year-old passenger, Thomas, according to Mangalam, had Type 1 diabetes since the age of 11 and had forgotten his insulin pump in hurry during the security check in a deposit tray at Sheremetyevo International Airport, Moscow.

Thomas' blood sugar level had risen beyond normal levels as it had been over five hours since he had taken his last insulin dose.

Luckily for him, he was carrying some cartridges of insulin with him, all he needed was a method to inject them.

The doctor who was assisting him was diabetic too and used a "pen-esque contraption" to inject insulin himself. But his dosage was chemically different from what Thomas usually took. To make matters worse, Thomas’ insulin cartridges wouldn't fit doctor's pen as they were thinner than doc's insulin pen.

Here's when Mangalam put his troubleshooting skills to perfection. He asked the air hostess for WiFi password and found an engineering drawing style diagram of an insulin pen.

"I requested the air hostess to let me access the premium Wi-Fi available in the plane to check on the pen’s manual online, to which she reluctantly agreed. I looked up the manual and found a large engineering drawing style diagram showing how every part fits with each other."

And soon realised what was missing.

"I realised that somehow there were only 12 parts in it now while the diagram clearly showed 13 different parts. On cross-checking I realised that it was missing a spring that coiled before the cartridge and was essential to transfer the push motion from the back to the needle in front."

He then instructed the air hostess to ask the passengers for ballpoint pens as they had spring in them.

After trying a few springs, he found the perfect match and passed the makeshift pen to the doctor who then adjusted the dose, changed the needle and injected the dosage to Thomas.

After 15 minutes, the doctor reported that Thomas was stable as his blood sugar levels stopped rising and eventually came down.

Mangalam's quick thinking saved Thomas' life and a possible emergency landing.

His write up was shared on microblogging site Twitter by IIT Kanpur's Twitter handle and netizens hailed the quick-thinking engineering student.

You can read the entire write up here.
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