American Airlines Disputes "Empty Oxygen Tank" Story

American Airlines is disputing reports that the oxygen tanks were empty and that the aircraft’s defibrillator did not work on a flight in which a 44-year-old Brooklyn woman died of complications from heart disease and diabetes.

From the Associated Press:

The airline said the oxygen tanks and a defibrillator were working and noted that several medical professionals on the flight, including a doctor, tried to save passenger Carine Desir, 44, who had heart disease.

“American Airlines, after investigation, has determined that oxygen was administered on the aircraft, and it was working, and the defibrillator was applied as well,” airline spokesman Charley Wilson said Monday.

Wilson said Desir’s cousin flagged down a flight attendant and said the woman had diabetes and needed oxygen. “The flight attendant responded, ‘OK, but we usually don’t need to treat diabetes with oxygen, but let me check anyway and get back to you.'”

Wilson said the employee spoke with another flight attendant, and both went to Desir within one to three minutes.

“By that time the situation was worsening, and they immediately began administering oxygen,” he said.

Wilson said the defibrillator was used but that the machine indicated Desir’s heartbeat was too weak to activate the unit.

An automated external defibrillator delivers an electric shock to try to restore a normal heart rhythm if a a particular type of irregular heart beat is detected. The machines cannot help in all cases.

Wilson said three flight attendants helped Desir, but “stepped back” after doctors and nurses on the flight began to help her.

“Our crew acted very admirably. They did what they were trained to do, and the equipment was working,” he said.

Desir was pronounced dead by one of the doctors, Joel Shulkin, and the flight continued to John F. Kennedy International Airport, without stopping in Miami. The woman’s body was moved to the floor of the first-class section and covered with a blanket, Oliver said.

Desir died of complications from heart disease and diabetes, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office.

Airline Disputes Cousin’s Story of Death [Chicago Tribune]

PREVIOUSLY: Woman Dies On AA Flight After Being Refused Help, Then Given Empty Oxygen Tanks


Edit Your Comment

  1. pigeonpenelope says:

    it is quite fair that we hear both sides of hte story. i’d like to hear from one of the doctors that helped her.

    she shouldn’t be flying with such poor health. she shouldn’t have been on vacation away from her doctor. that was a bad decision on the patient’s part. and moreso, if she was cleared for flying, she should have been equipped and prepared.

  2. statnut says:

    @pigeonpenelope:Yeah, the problem is when both sides tell vastly different stories. Truth lies somewhere in the middle I suppose.

    Either way, its tragic, and even if you dont think she should have been flying, people would do well to remember that, instead of trying to blame the dead woman.

  3. Meat_Shield says:

    Unfortunately, we may not be able to hear from the doctors and nurses due to HIPAA. They would know whether or not there was oxygen in those tanks.

  4. sleze69 says:

    Let’s hear the story of the doctor who pronounced her dead as he actually has a vested interest in the truth here.

  5. arch05 says:

    So who’s lying?

  6. pigeonpenelope says:

    @statnut: i do agree with the vastly different stories. hearing from a third person–a doctor that helped her– would help clear things up a bit.

    it is tragic but the original story was aimed at getting to our emotions rather than using logic. it is sad she died as i would have much rather heard she was alive and doing better than dead. we do all have to remember we are accountable for our own selves. if we are in poor health, we should seek doc approval before flying.

  7. pigeonpenelope says:

    @Meat_Shield: drat. you’re quite right. would make a nice middle person though wouldn’t it?

  8. humphrmi says:

    When the cousin’s story came out, and I read that he complained that the “Box” (defibrilator) didn’t work, I was sorta starting to question the story.

    An AED doesn’t help patients whos heart stops due to diabetes or even lack of oxygen. It’s main purpose is to shock the heart back into rhythm after certain (deadly) arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia.

    So complaining about the AED not working on a patient who was probably having a heart attack, and not an arrhythmia, is like complaining that the leg cast didn’t heal your broken wrist.

    Anyway as stated before, I’m sure the truth lies somewhere in between, I feel bad for this lady but the story from AA sounds plausible too.

  9. NefariousNewt says:

    The oxygen tank was not empty… it was filled with nitrogen.

  10. statnut says:

    @pigeonpenelope: But at the same time, do you expect AA to say anything other than deny the truthiness of the original story?

  11. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    I’m not a medical professional, so I’m curious to know why a defibrillator couldn’t be used since the woman’s heartbeat was “too weak to activate it” – isn’t that what the entire purpose of a defib is? To jumpstart a non-beating/low-beating heart?

    I hate to say this, and I’m not “blaming the victim” here, but I’m more apt to believe the airlines here. Yes, they have a lot to lose, and PR reps are spin doctors – but…I feel that reactions from a company representative may be a bit more lucid and grounded than a hysterical relative who just lost her cousin.

    Sorry :(

  12. IphtashuFitz says:

    @arch05: I wouldn’t necessarily say that anybody is lying. Think about it a bit. A relative of yours is in distress so you start to panic and get a flight attendant to help out. Eventually they do help, and in the process attempt to give oxygen and use an AED to the woman. The man sees them try one oxygen bottle but it doesn’t revive the woman. For whatever reason they try another bottle but it fails to revive her as well. Likewise, the AED doesn’t revive her. During all this time there’s probably a lot of commotion and confusion. The man is probably freaking out. Other flight attendants are probably trying to locate doctors/nurses among the passengers, and people near the woman are probably also freaking out a bit and/or trying to move out of the way. In a cramped isle it’s going to be pretty close to pandemonium up there.

    Flight attendants aren’t doctors, and although they have some first aid training they can’t be held to the level of trauma doctors, which is what you’d really want in a situation like this. I’m sure they tried really hard given the limited resources they have, but unless they do this sort of thing on a regular basis the only experience they probably have is a few hours practicing with a CPR mannequin.

    The bottom line is there’s likely to be a huge amount of finger pointing and variations on the stories from everybody on that plane, but I unless there was some serious negligence involved I doubt anybody would knowingly/willingly lie about it.

  13. ElenorR says:

    The airline and/or the flight attendants are only going to be liable if the tanks were actually empty. Flight attendants are not trained to give much beyond first aid, and everything reported sounds like they tried to offer Emergency Medical Treatment and asked for medical help.

    The original article was written in such a way to arouse sympathy for the woman who was dying, and did not take into account the limitations of medical care on a flight. I am less inclined to trust that sort of reporting.

    I also notice that the rebuttal is careful to discuss that medical professionals stepped in, something that was played down in the original article.

    All that said, if those tanks were faulty or empty, the airline is going to get crucified.

  14. ? graffiksguru says:

    After reading both of them, I’m taking AA’s side, sounds more plausible to me.

  15. pigeonpenelope says:

    @statnut: i’m quite certain AA made their side sound a bit better. i have never said their story was 100% accurate. i do believe there is some truth to both stories. that is why i have said twice now that i think a third party’s pov would be appreciated.

  16. IphtashuFitz says:

    @pinkbunnyslippers: AED’s are designed to detect specific heart conditions like arrhythmia (abnormal electrical activity in the heart) fibrillation (the heart muscle and the ventricles get out of sync, resulting in blood not pumping properly), etc. If the womans heart was weakened due to an unrelated issue, such as a chemical imbalance due to her diabetes or a blood clot then an AED won’t work. The AED is meant mainly for things like heart attacks.

  17. forgottenpassword says:

    WHERE IS THE DOCTOR & NURSE!!!!!! I want their sides of this story.

  18. pigeonpenelope says:

    does anyone know why administering oxygen was detrimental in this case? at first when i read the other article i thought maybe the patient was asthmatic or needed oxygen because she didn’t successfully produce her own. i know the functions of the heart and lungs but am confused as to how, in the case of her heart issue, how giving her oxygen may have saved her life. i sense she had an issue that only emergency surgery would have helped.

  19. humphrmi says:

    @IphtashuFitz: Not to split hairs, because you’re mostly right (AED’s are for fibrillations, especially ventricular) but “heart attacks” (or myocardial infarction) don’t get much benefit from AED’s either. An MI is where the blood flow to the heart is interrupted, usually because of a plaque rupture – a shock doesn’t help here.

    In fact this lady’s symptoms sound like myocardial infarction, and an AED is of little use in that case.

    Would you believe I learned all this from a CPR/AED course I took? :)

  20. MrMold says:

    The AED only works on hearts (pumps) that have a level of function (say 5 out of 10). After you go below 5, the machine can’t adjust your odd heartbeat.
    If the passenger had severe diabetes and cardiac issues, it might be that nothing would save her. Even when a med pro knows you are dead they’ll keep working on the hope that you get that one-per-billion chance of coming out alive.

  21. pigeonpenelope says:

    @humphrmi: quite impressive. the only extra thing i took away from the cpr course i took was that the patient can puke in your mouth when you give cpr. quite disgusting really.

  22. @statnut: If they’d screwed up as badly as was initially reported, I’d expect them to issue a curt “no comment at this time”.

    Instead, they congratulated the crew and affirmed the devices were working. I can assure you they’d keep their corporate mouths shut if they were not sure of being vindicated.

  23. mantari says:

    I wonder if this is a case, again, of lying through telling the truth?

    “The airline said the oxygen tanks and a defibrillator were working…” — but no mention if the O2 tank was working *and* had any remaining oxygen supply.

    “…has determined that oxygen was administered on the aircraft…” — But was it successfully administered?

    “There were 12 oxygen tanks on the plane and the crew checked them before the flight took off to make sure they were working” — Did they actually flow any air out of the tank? Because that would be how you would make _sure_ they were working.

    “…and the equipment was working” — But was it working PROPERLY?

    Seriously. They denied everything without actually denying anything!

  24. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    @IphtashuFitz: Thanks for the edumacation! :)

  25. statnut says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: But what are they basing it on? What the attendants told them?

  26. timmus says:

    What mantari said.

  27. pigeonpenelope says:

    @mantari: good point. i’m still wondering how oxygen would have saved this woman’s life?

    does it really matter in this patient’s case that the oxygen tanks were not working? since i have relatively no medical background, this still baffles me.

  28. ThinkerTDM says:

    So it all boils down to who you want to believe. Personally, I am quite willing to believe that an airline trying to cut costs would certainly not fill O2 tanks- after all, who uses them anyway? The point is not really who killed the lady- that’s another point. The point here is whether the airline is negligent in providing…
    ahh, who cares anyway. Big corporations always choose profit over safety. And big corporations have the money to make stories like this disappear.

  29. brent_w says:

    For $500:
    “The flight attendant responded, ‘OK, but we usually don’t need to treat diabetes with oxygen, but let me check anyway and get back to you.'”
    What is … lousy lying flight attendant covers her ass?

  30. eddieisannoying says:

    This never would have happned if House was on the flight

  31. humphrmi says:

    @mantari: Just an educated guess here, but a more likely scenario, given that there were two doctors on board who helped the lady, is that they’ve been told by both doctors that she had a loss of blood flow to the heart caused by a plaque rupture, and no amount of oxygen or AED shocks would have helped her.

    I’m betting that the whole issue goes away after she has an autopsy. Again, I feel bad for her, and her cousin who watched her die on an airplane, but some tragic loss-of-life events can’t be prevented, even with a working tank of oxygen and an AED. It sounds like she had much better medical attention than most people would have on a flight (two doctors and a nurse, from what I read) and if two doctors couldn’t save her, she probably was going to drop dead whether she was on an airplane or sitting on a beach in Haiti or sitting in her home in Brooklyn.

  32. poodlepoodle says:

    1. It has been covered that defibrillators are not the end all and be all of advanced cardiac care. Depending on her condition it might not have been any use at all.

    2. As for the nurses/doctors who helped — have you ever heard of a thing called HIPPA?

  33. rjhiggins says:

    Hey Consumerist: Any response to the complaints (in the previous related post) about the irresponsibility of posting these one-sided stories, with inflammatory headlines (“Woman Dies On AA Flight After Being Refused Help, Then Given Empty Oxygen Tanks”), without at least trying to get a response from the company involved?

    You can’t have it both ways: You can’t claim to be journalists crusading for the rights of consumers, but then run hiding when things blow up and say, “We’re just a blog. We were just linking to someone else’s one-sided story. We don’t have to be fair.”

    If you want to maintain a certain level of credibility you do indeed have to be as fair as possible.

    We’d be very interested in hearing your response.

  34. GearheadGeek says:

    @poodlepoodle: @Meat_Shield:
    HIPAA would in no way constrain medical personnel from saying whether or not, in their professional opinion, the oxygen tanks were properly filled and functional. It would prevent them from saying publicly what the woman’s condition was and what treatment they applied in her case.

  35. statnut says:

    @poodlepoodle: No, what is HIPPA?

  36. Granolaheadesq says:

    Usually I’m%

  37. mantari says:

    @humphrmi: If your hypothetical is true or not, American attempted to deny everything without denying anything of substance.

    BTW: If they crew actually does check all 12 oxygen tanks before take-off (as American claims), and they do it by actually flowing air, doesn’t that add to the probability of the tanks being empty when you need them?

  38. IphtashuFitz says:

    @statnut: See the privacy rule described here: []

  39. poodlepoodle says:


    Ok…Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

    While this woman probably didn’t show her insurance HIPAA generally gets thrown about for confidentiality reasons. What I’m trying to say is that these doctors can’t tell you can’t tell you anything about what they did for this woman.

  40. Frank Grimes says:

    @pinkbunnyslippers: I just went through my AED class at work and and they will ONLY, and a big ONLY, work on a very specific problem. The machiine will in fact perform a very quick diasgnostic on the patient and tell you that it won’t shock. In fact it just tells you to keep on perfroming CPR. If she had congenital heart failure and diabetes its highly unlikely an AED would have been any help at all, thus her cousin’s reaction.

  41. IphtashuFitz says:

    @mantari: They probably don’t check the tanks by actually bleeding air from them. They probably just check pressure gauges on them or some other visual indicator. The problem with opening up a valve that’s under pressure is that it’s way too easy to not get a good seal when closing it up again, thereby letting it bleed slowly until all the pressure is gone.

  42. SVreader says:

    @rjhiggins: That’s how a lot of the Gawker sites (and popular blogs like boingboing) run, unfortunately. Valleywag recently complained about not getting credit in the mainstream news for reporting on a story early, but the moment it turns out they reported something false, they’re just a “gossip blog.”

  43. mantari says:

    @IphtashuFitz: Good point. American only said that they “checked them before the flight took off to make sure they were working”. Perhaps they checked them for the purpose of making sure that they were working, but that their check of a pressure gauge does not actually test the working status of the bottles.

  44. mantari says:

    @mantari: Also, “checked them before the flight” could mean anything from a take-off procedure, all the way to having been tested when the aircraft was first delivered to American. If you think I’m being too literal, that is exactly how you have to read PR non-denial denials to get at the truth.

  45. @rjhiggins: I have a problem with this style of reporting/blogging as well.

    To e fair, the Consumerist posted American’s side to this story, but haven’t changed this post to reflect that fact yet.

  46. failurate says:

    @rjhiggins: Bloggers ain’t journalists… They just play one on the interweb.

  47. pigeonpenelope says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: ??? confused as it clearly states that the article is AA’s pov… what am i missing?

  48. failurate says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: Your getting your news all mixed up with your entertainment.

  49. rjhiggins says:

    @pigeonpenelope: You’re missing the original post; go back through Consumerist and you’ll see it.

    Which brings up another point, a problem with the blog format in general: If you run a separate item giving a more complete story, but leave the original, inflammatory post intact, there will be many links to the original story with no indication that there’s been an update.

  50. Granolaheadesq says:

    my last comment got cut off

  51. Phantom_Photon says:

    Fair enough. It sounds like both the flight crew, and serendipitous medical personnel did all they could. It can be hard to lose someone, and often people feel the need to blame someone.

    Kudos to the Consumerist for posting this follow up, and hopefully it is linked in fromt he original article.

  52. pigeonpenelope says:

    @rjhiggins: if you’re meaning the first article about this woman’s situation, i’ve read it hours ago. what i am confused about is californiacajun’s post that seems to say that the consumerist is not making it known this particular article we are all commenting on is from the AA perspective. i feel consumerist clearly posted that. this is why i htink i’m missing some sort of tidbit.

  53. Granolaheadesq says:

    my last comment got cut off, but I really need to know why Consumerist decided to take the side of the 1 consumer looking for only self interest (the relative, nominal plaintiff trying the case already rather than grieving for his relative) and not for the 149 other consumers on the plane who did not knowlingly assume the risk of a side trip to Miami because some idiot who was unfit to fly decided to get on board. And what about demanding to divert the flight; isn’t that hijacking? I thought this site was about getting a fair deal for the consumer, not driving up everyone’s costs by making corporations the insurer of every person’s bad decision. If your looking out for consumers, how bout the consumers who paid for first class but were seated in the morgue? I say if you die in coach, you stay in coach or be taken to the rear galley. If any of the first class victims wants to sue, I will gladly represent you for 33% of all the free first class flights you should be entitled to. Clearly you suffered IIED when the airline converted first class into Jimmie Dimmick’s garage.

  54. MissPeacock says:

    @GearheadGeek: Does HIPPA even apply in a situation like this? I’m really curious.

  55. Meg Marco says:

    @Phantom_Photon: Yes, it is linked from that article.

  56. pigeonpenelope says:

    @Granolaheadesq: good point. i have considered the pov of the other passengers as well. perhaps the consumerist didn’t post an article from their pov because there is none? i hope if a passenger did give their perspective to the media that we have it posted as well.

    off topic. some lady dropped off an avon catalog with a sample of perfume. it smells like old lady. not surprising. but the smell won’t leave my house and i’m quite disgusted.

  57. savager says:

    what is heart disease anyway AA… you made that shit up just so you could cover up another mile high murder… friggin government issue nanorobots

  58. poodlepoodle says:


    I’m sure it doesn’t as that has to do with insurance. But the privacy issues it raises will hold. That woman was their patient. Just because we’re all curious as to what really happened doesn’t mean they can start talking about her, even though she’s dead.

  59. cde says:

    @humphrmi: The defib was not Effective, meaning (or could mean) it worked mechanically, but not useful in that situation.

    @sleze69: Agreed. That’s an unbiased source. AA is Covering ItsAss, and the family is in mourning/shock.

    @pinkbunnyslippers: Apparently, defibs work on irregular heatbeats, like if your heart starts skipping or is stuck on a beat.

    @pigeonpenelope: The patient is the best source of information on what they are feeling. If you were a doctor and your patient said he can’t breathe. Or it hurt when he breathed, it would get you on track of what you need to do (administer o2 or check for contusions, respectfully)

    @rjhiggins: Since the Consumerist was just relaying information as it happened, just like “real” news sources (NYT, Boston press, MSNBC) you have to treat them equally. They have the original post, as provided by NYTimes, and the updated post, which is just an update on the original post that MSNBC has, which is provided by the same AssociatedPress newsstream.

  60. cde says:

    @Granolaheadesq: I’m sure a life-threatening situation is reason to have a pilot divert a plane. Not like he demanded it go to the bahamas for some tanning :/

    Two, at the time of the 1st post, noone, not even AP had AA’s side.

    Three, I’m sure AA compensated them for the morgue.

  61. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    We wont hear from the Doctors. If you notice in the AP story the doctor who declared her dead has already hired a lawyer to answer press questions. That is because they know whatever they say right now will be used against them in the eventual lawsuit (and I can promise you that there will be a lawsuit)

  62. sperle says:

    Let’s not lose sight of the real tragedy: Regardless of what the flight attendant did and regardless of whether or not the oxygen worked or if it was administered correctly…A PASSENGER DIED ON THE FLIGHT AND THEY CONTINUED ON TO THE FINAL DESTINATION WITHOUT STOPPING!!!!! How horrible for the woman’s family and the passengers!

  63. D.B. Cooper-Nichol says:

    Cheers to Meg Marco for getting this update posted, anyway. I think if you follow this blog, you’ll find just about zero irresponsible posts credited to her handle.

  64. D.B. Cooper-Nichol says:

    @sperle: What in the world should they have done? Stopped in Miami to drop off the body, and the cousin, who live in New York and most assuredly wanted to get home with the rest of the family?

    The woman was unfortunately, but quite certainly dead. There’s nothing they can do for her in Miami. We’ve just have been reading about the heartless airline, who “killed” a passenger, then “dumped” the body and survivor in a strange city to fend for themselves.

  65. cde says:

    @sperle: Actually, it’s wonderful for the womans family (IN CONTEXT DAMN IT) because they avoid having to make arrangements to transport her body from Miami to NYC, and rebooking his return flight. The passenger’s, not so much, but I bet they are sympathetic to having to deal with dead family like that.

  66. rjhiggins says:

    @cde: If all Consumerist did was link to the original story, perhaps. But the headline (“Woman Dies On AA Flight After Being Refused Help, Then Given Empty Oxygen Tanks”) reads like something from a tabloid.

    And then there’s this commentary: “Thus continues American Airlines’ zero-tolerance rule to illness and health emergencies, and their devotion to creating unsafe environments for employees and passengers.”

    That’s far more than “just relaying information.”

  67. pigeonpenelope says:

    @cde: good point. thanks for responding to my post for info as to why the oxygen is that important. also, good pov on the shipment of the body. it is something else i had not considered.

  68. pigeonpenelope says:

    cde, do you have a medical background? simply curious. no need to respond if you don’t want to.

  69. cde says:

    @rjhiggins: Well, that is the tone taken from the article. Even the Article title is speculative

    “Woman, 44, Dies on Plane With 2 Empty Oxygen Tanks”//

    It immediately screams damaged equipment is the cause.

    And the commentary, well that’s just snark. >_>

  70. cde says:

    @pigeonpenelope: I have a degree in research-via-boredom. I read alot. I spend hours on wiki (Yea, I know, the info is still valid) and I like to be very well rounded in these things. I have picked up and read parts of two different medical dictionaries from my libraries (job) discard bin. But mostly, I tend to think I am a very logical person and draw from that and my own experiences.

  71. cde says:

    @cde: Ohh, sorry, but if you look at the commentary, “unsafe” leads to a story about AA being fined under OSHA (repeatedly) and the “zero-tolerence” towards a story where AA will not provide refunds or free/reduced rebooking for passangers who had medical emergencies (Ruptured appendix in that case)

  72. pigeonpenelope says:

    @cde: good enough. self education is good for acquiring logic. thanks again :)

  73. SexierThanJesus says:

    @Granolaheadesq: “because some idiot who was unfit to fly decided to get on board”

    Wow, dude. Just….wow. I really hope you don’t do anything stupid just before you die…for your own sake. Lest you be ripped to shreds on a blog.

    “I say if you die in coach, you stay in coach or be taken to the rear galley.”

    Hell yeah! You tell ’em! No free rides! Ron Paul for president!!!!!

  74. Granolaheadesq says:

    @ThinkerTDM: Really, you think the airline would do that to cut costs? Skimp on the oxygen tanks which also power the loss of pressurization/drop down mask system? They waste our time telling us how to use them but don’t charge the tanks? Doubtful to say the least.

  75. SexierThanJesus says:

    And to be fair, it’s always best to wait for both sides of the story when there are medical issues involved. One man’s heart attack is another man’s hangnail.

  76. cde says:

    @SexierThanJesus: That’s true, but that’s exactly what we have here, two sides. 50/50 never wins a majority vote. 3 sides are needed. The Family, AA, and the doctor.

  77. Granolaheadesq says:

    @SexierThanJesus: I’m just saying, and said much more eloquently in my lost first post, was that too many people put themselves in dangerous situations today and assume someone else will risk their time, money or their life to save them. Like hikers in windbreakers getting stranded on Mt Hood, and a helicopter crashes trying to save their stupid selves. (Mixed/hybridized example, I know) People need to take some personal responsibility, and save the lawsuits for actual negligence and not a superhuman powers to save the customers from their ignorant selves.

  78. zarex42 says:

    AA is right on this one. Their explanation is far more plausible.

  79. cde says:

    @Granolaheadesq: But noone goes hiking expecting to get stranded. And it’s not like the search and rescue isn’t paid. They do bill for services rendered.

  80. kleematt says:

    It’s tragic, but in the end, AA will settle and pay some money to the victim’s family. It’s just cheaper for the airline to pay and close this case. That’s the way the legal system works, and that’s why so many take advantage with frivolous lawsuits.

  81. GearheadGeek says:

    @MissPeacock: In this particular case (doctor on vacation provides emergency care pro bono) I’m fairly sure than any hack lawyer could get a court to absolve the doctor of any HIPAA confidentiality requirements. However, Americans being the litigious pricks they are, and doctors being a popular target because they tend to have some wealth and liability insurance, I’m guessing that the doctor would be very quiet and not say anything his lawyer didn’t approve.

  82. @kleematt: Why should AA pay because this lady happened to die on their airplane while it was between two airports?

  83. parnote says:

    @pigeonpenelope: Obviously, you know next to little about the functioning of the heart and lungs. The heart is the biggest “consumer” of oxygen in the body, and if you don’t have enough of it (no, people don’t produce their own!), you can have a heart attack and place a larger workload on the heart, insuring an almost certain death. I cannot even begin to think of where to go from here, given your seriously limited knowledge of human anatomy. But one word of advice … STOP watching ER and other sensasionalized TV medical dramas. Not one ouce of surgery would have saved this woman.

  84. Imaginary_Friend says:

    What I wanna know is: what the hell was in that chicken (or fish or whatever the heck they served the poor woman)? Didn’t the original article say she compained of feeling ill right after the meal? Hmmm…

  85. cde says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: Both articles do mention that. She became uncomfortable and extremely thirsty shortly after a meal. They do not mention what she ate. But considering airplane meals are cooked in bulk, out of all the other passengers, someone else would have gotten sick as well (If it was food poisoning related)

  86. pyloff says:

    If your old… sick… worried about eminent death, or better yet relying on your oxygen provided by an airline…

    What do you think?

    Don’t fly you fucking moron.

  87. humphrmi says:

    @D.B. Cooper-Nichol: LOL, I know it’s mean, but when I read that, all I could think of was the “Aunt Edna Funeral Scene” in National Lampoon’s Vacation. Maybe they could have everyone from the plane stand around while the pilot did his best Clark Griswold imitation:

    Clark: [Delivering the eulogy for Aunt Edna] O God, ease our suffering in this, our moment of great dispair. Yea, admit this kind and decent woman into thy arms of thine heavenly area, up there. And Moab, he lay us upon the band of the Canaanites, and yea, though the Hindus speak of karma, I implore you: give her a break.
    Ellen: Clark…
    Clark:[ignoring her] Baruuuuuuch Ataaaaaaah Aluuuuuuuyah…
    Ellen: Clark, this is a serious matter, I’ll do it myself!
    Clark: Honey, I’m not an ordained minister; I’m doing my best.


    Sorry, couldn’t resist. And yeah, I already looked for the video on Youtube :)

  88. pigeonpenelope says:

    @parnote: i’m going to ignore the rudeness at which you replied. you must live with yourself and i’m quite sure that’s worse than any poison my fingers can type.

    it is quite sweet of you to be so upset about what i know and don’t know about the functions of the heart. since i’m not a doctor, nor a nurse, nor anyone trained in the medical profession, i will not make the assumption as to what a bunch of oxygen would do to help this woman at this time. that is why i asked. i figure someone would be able to help me understand why this woman who was possibly having a heart attack, would need oxygen over other treatment. i simply did not know. i’m not sure why the passion though, i never claimed to be one who is knowledgeable with anatomy. i didn’t study this in college so why is my lack of knowledge on this so upsetting?

  89. pigeonpenelope says:

    @pyloff: exactly! i’m young and healthy but i have kidney issues.. i see my doc before going on a trip away from home… last thing i would want is to pass a stone on a plane.

  90. SwampAssJ says:


    Here is a small tip, learn before you speak.

    Heart attack (Myocardial Infarction) is caused by blood being cut off from part of the heart due to an obstruction in the blood vessels, not the lack of oxygen in the blood. If anything lack of O2 saturation will render them unconcious and/or brain damaged before the heart begins to die.

  91. parnote says:

    @pigeonpenelope: Sorry you took my remarks as rude, as they were not meant in that spirit. However, you DID profess to know what you are talking about:

    i know the functions of the heart and lungs but am confused as to how, in the case of her heart issue, how giving her oxygen may have saved her life. i sense she had an issue that only emergency surgery would have helped.

    I am an experienced and trained medical professional who deals with the very issues this woman was undergoing every time I work a shift at the hospital. There are far too many people who watch sensationalized, over-dramatized medical dramas who think they know what they are talking about. I can attest that this is becoming an ever increasing problem for health care professionals, as they increasingly have to battle the misconceptions and falsehoods implanted in the brains of the health care consumer by these oft misguided Hollywood melodramas.

    All I am saying, is if you REALLY don’t know what you are talking about, then why are you weighing in on the issue?

  92. parnote says:

    @SwampAssJ: You certainly do not know, but I’m probably much better versed in this area than you will ever know.

  93. Amy Alkon says:


    BTW: If they crew actually does check all 12 oxygen tanks before take-off (as American claims), and they do it by actually flowing air, doesn’t that add to the probability of the tanks being empty when you need them?

    Oxygen tanks I’ve seen on airplanes have an indicator on them that shows how full they are. The arrow is on the right when they’re full, and it goes back to the left as they empty, if I remember correctly. It’s pretty simple to read.

  94. Amy Alkon says:

    Here’s an example:


  95. BuddyHinton says:

    I hear AA will be charging her family the cost to upgrade her to first class. Nice.

  96. rjhiggins says:

    @pyloff: The victim was 44, not exactly old. And she had a heart condition, which is pretty common in this country. So you’re saying she should pretty much just curl up at home and wait to die? Never go on vacation, never get on a plane, never get in a car, because she might inconvenience some jackass like yourself (and pigeonpenelope, who amazingly agrees with you)?

    Guess who’s the “f*ing moron” here? (Of course, that was pretty obvious just from your butchering of the language.)

  97. gingerCE says:

    @rjhiggins: I commented on another different article on the Consumerist–which had incorrect info based on a site it linked to–but I checked the link site and the information contradicted what was written on the Consumerist site. When I pointed this out I got criticized rather than anyone agreeing with me.

    I know this is a “blog” and not real journalism–they’re not trying to be subjective like other “news” site pretend to be, but I think this site needs to have some semblence of relaying facts and information correctly–or else, they are just like a lot of the companies we complain about–giving out misinformation.

    But I will agree that due to the nature of this site, it is difficult for them to get both sides of any story across. However on a different article I recommended they change the headline once they knew they had questionable proof submitted by a reader–but they didn’t as far as I know.

    I will say I do like how they let people like me publicly criticize and disagree with them.

  98. deadlizard says:

    Whatever side of the story proves to be truth there’s something out of dispute: It sucks to get a fatal health problem 35000 feet above international waters.

  99. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    i just think there is a lot of confusion here.
    they had an AED, which does not work the same way a regular defibrillator does.

    i have no clue how oxygen would help diabetes, except possibly help with nausea associated with DKA (related to high blood glucose levels)

    it seems like the cousin did not know what was going on, and distraught that her cousin died on a flight. Of course, what level of liability should AA take if one of their passengers [with previous medical conditions] dies in the air?

  100. mike says:

    @Meat_Shield: I would think that confidentiality is waved because, well, they were in a public area. The woman wasn’t the doctor’s patient; he just happened to be on the scene.

    In either case, AA is starting to look like a jerk…more from the fact that they didn’t help the passenger the first time it was requested.

    “I’m having a heart attack!”
    “Sorry sir. The ‘seated’ light is on. You’ll have to wait until we clear the turbulence.”

  101. snowmentality says:

    Just for everybody’s information, a defibrillator does what the name says — it stops fibrillation, which is when the electrical activity in the heart is disorganized and “chaotic.” It can also help in situations where the electrical activity is not going in the right direction. It doesn’t re-start the heart — it kind of “re-boots” it, stopping all electrical activity that’s going on at the time.

    To grossly oversimplify, usually your heart is electrically activated from the top (by a self-activating area of the heart, and your nervous system), and the activation moves towards the bottom, in a wave. Then a new activation begins from the top and goes towards the bottom. The electrical activation is what makes your heart contract and pump blood. Sometimes the electrical activation gets out of whack and starts going from bottom to top, or round and round, instead, though. Then your heart isn’t pumping right, or maybe not contracting at all.

    The defibrillator essentially stops/erases all that out-of-whack electrical activity, by shocking your whole heart so it’s all electrically “at rest” at the same time. Then your heart can take over again, starting a new beat fresh. Ideally whatever caused it to get out of whack won’t do it again. Of course, if your heart is incapable of starting a new beat, then you’re out of luck.

    /cardiac electrophysiology grad student lecture mode

  102. pigeonpenelope says:

    @parnote: i’m weighing in differently than i think you are reading. i’m discussing the validity of the arguments of both sides. i’m also questioning whether an oxygen tank would have done the trick. that was when i asked about what good an oxygen tank would have really had on this patient. i just think the issue of the tank might be a diversion from an upset family member still in shock over the whole thing. sometimes upset people focus on something that doesn’t really matter because they can’t see clearly yet. make sense?

    i do know the basic functions of the heart (pumping oxygenated blood into the body, receiving de-oxygenated blood after its cycle) yeah i get that. my confusion lies in that if the person is having a heart attack then likely one or more vessels are clogged and are not quite able to do their job in passing blood along which means the body is not receiving oxygen. if the heart is unable to pass oxygenated blood, how is the patient breathing in oxygen going to be positively impacted? i guess what i’m misunderstanding