New nurse, 22, helps save passenger suffering heart attack mid-flight

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey -- A woman from New Jersey, who has been a nurse for less than a year, helped save a fellow passenger mid-flight.

Courtney Donlon, 22, was asleep on a flight back to Newark when flight attendants asked if anyone with medical training could help a sick passenger.

"Right off the bat, you could see that the patient was wide eyed. She could feel something bad was about to happen," said Donlon, a Robert Wood Johnson Hospital nurse.

It was a Monday night, on a flight home from a trip to Vegas.

Donlon's work is usually in the respiratory care unit at Robert Wood Johnson.

On the plane, she became the point person, calling for oxygen, the defibrillator, whatever she needed.

"They knew they could trust me. We asked for aspirin," Donlon said. "So many people on board began digging in their bags for it. We found it. It's a blood thinner."

Donlon has been a nurse for a little more than eight months.

Even the pilot who called back for an update from her.

"I've seen this before," Donlon said she told the pilot. "It's a heart attack. She needs more medical attention than I can give her. He says, 'What do I do?' I said, 'Land the plane.' He said, 'OK.'"

Donlon's actions were the buzz at work, where her mom is a nurse in the cardiac unit.

"She was in the right place at the right time," said mom Renee Donlon. "Her skills kicked in, and she used them to the best of her abilities."

Courtney Donlon and her sister are both nurses on the same floor.

"After a long trip, she's sleeping, she jumped up, got into the zone and did what she had to do," said sister Nicholle Black.

Courtney Donlon also gave credit to nurse Valentina, who helped monitor the patient until she was handed off to EMS in South Carolina.

"You are their lifeline, you're always on the frontline, that's why nursing was my choice," Courtney Donlon said.
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