On Sunday, May 14, 2023, a Delta plane took off from Lagos on its way to Atlanta, United States. Except for some minor turbulence in the sky, it was a smooth flight. That was until about three hours before our arrival in Atlanta.
The captain calmly requested for anyone with medical background to please report to the rear of the big plane. Promptly, doctors and other medical personnel among the passengers, stood up from their seats to comply.
Among the responders was a lady in the isle beside us. She returned momentarily to grab some medications for the victim, a middle-aged gentleman. The situation became more critical when the medical responders were seen taking turns to apply CPR on the victim.
In the meantime, the air stewards could not serve breakfast and drinks while every attention was focussed on the sick man. Some hours later, the entire plane was filled with sadness as the news filtered to us that the man had passed away.
Then, it dawned on me that the sick, hapless passenger must have, like the rest of us, passed through the many stressful and unnecessary “toll gates” that litter the Murtala Mohammed International airport. Under the terrible, nasty heat of the airport, the sick man too must have been subjected to the duplicated tasks of the Immigrations, Customs, NDLEA etc. And, of course, the sick man must also have been confronted with the irritating plea of “don’t forget to bless us sir/ma” at every “toll gate” within the airport.
I still can’t imagine the emotional state of the victim’s wife and family members (home and abroad). I also wonder how the individual(s) who saw the poor man off at the Lagos airport would feel when notified that he had died.
The first lesson here is for us, as mere mortals, to avoid taking too many things for granted. Secondly, flying takes a lot from the body physically and mentally. Therefore, it’s high time the sick and the elderly individuals realized the risks involved in taking direct air flights of over 10 or more hours.
Sadly, the passenger, who boarded a plane on his feet, came out at his destination in a body bag.
Femi Olawole. is based in the USA