Man Has Heart Attack Mid-Flight, But Plane Continues 14-Hour Trip

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A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 plane takes off from Changi International airport in Singapore bound for London on November 5, 2010.

A 51 year-old man suffered an heart attack shortly after takeoff from Singapore. But Singapore Airlines did not divert to the nearest available airport, and instead continued its 14-hour flight to London.

Max Pearson, who happens to be a BBC radio host, was on his flight back from reporting about the tsunami in Japan. He went into cardiac arrest on the flight that landed on March 18. The story is surfacing just now, as Pearson is considering suing the airline.

(More on TIME.com: Southwest’s Scare: When a Plane Decompresses, What Happens?)

The crew of the Singapore-London flight did not deem his occurrence severe enough for the flight to be diverted. A fellow passenger, reportedly a doctor, took care of him during the flight. Singapore Airlines said in a statement:

With regards to in-flight medical emergencies, our general standard procedure after ascertaining that a passenger is unwell is to broadcast over the PA system a request for medical assistance on board, and to contact our ground-based telemedical service provider, MedAire.

An in-flight diversion may be carried out based on medical recommendations. Our pilots will take considerations, including  the recommendation of MedAire, into account on whether to divert to the nearest suitable airport with medical facilities.

Where necessary, we would arrange for additional medical support on the ground to be made available as soon as the aircraft touches down.

(More on TIME.comAnother Qantas Flight Makes Emergency Landing)

Upon landing in London, Pearson was immediately transferred to an hospital where he received life-saving surgery. But, the Daily Mail reports, he’s been left with permanent heart damage.

While NewsFeed realizes that diverting a plane that size can costs tens of thousands of dollars, the risk of the loss of a life is too big. (Via The Economist)

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