(NEW YORK) — A California medical consultant says he’s lucky to be alive after he passed out on a cross-country flight, turned blue and had no sign of a pulse.
A doctor who was sitting behind Thomas Lecoq did chest compressions to revive him and was about to treat him with a defibrillator when Lecoq suddenly began breathing again.
The last thing Lecoq, 70, remembers before he lost consciousness on the flight from Phoenix to Charlotte last Friday was chatting with a fellow passenger who bought him a drink.
Lecoq, who was going to Charlotte for business, said the 7-Up and whiskey he had on the flight was his only alcoholic beverage and that his body gave him no sign something was about to go terribly wrong.
“I just fell over I guess. I don’t have any memory until I was coming to,” he told ABC News.
Lucky for Lecoq, Dr. Maeve O’Connor, an allergist from Charlotte who is trained in advanced cardiac life support, was seated in the row behind him.
“He was just a really lovely man, joking and laughing with the passenger next to him,” O’Connor said. “All of a sudden his co-passenger turned around and looked at me. I looked at Tom and his head slumped back in the seat.”
As O’Connor exited her row and went to help Lecoq, she said his face had turned pale while his lips were blue.
“He had no pulse. I checked multiple times,” she said. “I tried to wake him up and when I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I asked for help to get him down on the ground.”
Along with three other passengers, O’Connor said she laid Lecoq in the emergency exit row and began performing chest compressions.
Just as O’Connor was about to give Lecoq’s heart a jump start with a defibrillator, the doctor said she felt Lecoq’s heart start beating again.
“He started doing this breathing, grunt sort of thing,” O’Connor said. “He had a beautiful bounding pulse. It was nothing and there it was.”
O’Connor, who said she was still perplexed by what caused Lecoq to lose consciousness, said she advised the flight crew that they should continue with a planned emergency landing in Nashville.
“We didn’t know if he had a seizure or a stroke or possibly a heart attack,” O’Connor said.
Lecoq remembers coming back into consciousness on the airplane and the sensation that he didn’t have control over his arms and legs.
“It was like I had zero strength and almost no communication with them,” he said.
When they landed, Lecoq was transferred from the care of O’Connor and taken to a hospital in Nashville where doctors ran a battery of tests on him to find out what went wrong.
Lecoq said doctors determined he was severely dehydrated. He remained hospitalized overnight while his daughter, Amee, who also works with him, traveled to be by her father’s side.
The duo then continued on to Charlotte where Lecoq said he was able to accomplish everything he wanted to on his business trip, only just a day later.
Now back in California for the holidays, Lecoq said he’s feeling great and just has some soreness from the chest compressions. He plans to even resume his business trips in the new year.
“Amee is prepared to take the business over, but I don’t think we’ll need that anytime soon,” Lecoq said, laughing. “I’m very, very happy to be here.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jethro Mullen and Matt Egan, CNN
Grant Olsen, KSL.com
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Julia Horowitz, CNN