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Pilot Kenneth Allen has ‘miracle recovery’ after passing out, forcing passenger to land

Pilot Kenneth Allen has miracle recovery after passing out forcing


The 64-year-old pilot of a small plane who passed out mid-flight, leaving his passenger with zero flying experience to land the aircraft in Florida earlier this month, had a “miracle” recovery after suffering a cardiac event, his surgeon said.

Kenneth Allen has been discharged from Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center and is recuperating after undergoing a nine-hour surgery to treat his torn aorta, his cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Nishant Patel, told reporters.

“I mean, the story is a miracle after a miracle, really. You know, for him to be able to survive the event, an acute type-A dissection is really acute, it is hyperacute, it happens suddenly,” Patel said.

Patel, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, said not only did Allen survive the typically catastrophic injury, but he had a remarkable recovery.

“Every step of the way, it was really extraordinary that he was able to get through it,” Patel said. “The first thing he said to me the morning after surgery was, ‘When can I go home?’”

Allen was flying a Cessna with two passengers on board from the Bahamas to Florida on May 10 when he blacked out in the cockpit, leaving Darren Harrison and his fellow traveler to fend for themselves.

Pilot Kenneth Allen has been discharged from Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center and is recuperating after undergoing a nine-hour surgery to treat his torn aorta.

An ambulance was waiting at the airport and Allen was whisked first to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where he was suffering signs of a stroke that left the left side of his face droopy and the loss of movement on one side of his body.

Patel said when doctors discovered Allen needed complex cardiac care, he was transferred to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center.

When Allen arrived, he was “confused and lethargic,” Patel said. He then underwent the operation to repair his aorta.

Patel and his team stopped the blood flow to every organ except Allen’s brain, which meant his body temperature was cooled.

Darren Harrison told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie that he had to act quickly when the pilot of his small plane fell unconscious.
Darren Harrison told Savannah Guthrie of “Today” that he had to act quickly when the pilot of his small plane fell unconscious.
NBC Today

“When you cool someone down that low, the clock is ticking,” Patel said.

Less than a week later, he left the hospital and was doing “remarkably well” in his recovery, his surgeon said in an earlier interview on NBC’s “Today” show.

Patel stressed how rare it is for patients with similar injuries to survive.

“Fifty percent of patients won’t make it to the hospital, and then 50% of patients that do make it to the hospital will pass away within 24 hours without prompt diagnosis and treatment,” Patel said Tuesday.

He added: “It’s something I’ve never seen before, probably will never see again.”

Meanwhile, Allen’s passenger said his own ability to land their plane, despite never flying before, was also miraculous.

Darren Harrison had to navigate the plane to safety.
Darren Harrison had to steer the plane to safety.
NBC Today

Harrison told the “Today” show this week that the “hand of God” was with him on the flight.

Harrison said he was relaxing with his flip-flop-clad feet up in the back of the single-engine plane after a fishing trip in the Bahamas when the pilot told him and another passenger, “Guys, I gotta tell you I don’t feel good.”

“He said, ‘I’ve got a headache and I’m fuzzy and I just don’t feel right,’” the 39-year-old said. “And I said, ‘What do we need to do?’ and at that point he didn’t respond at all.”

“All I saw when I came up to the front was water out the right window and I knew it was coming quick. At that point I knew if I didn’t react, that we would die,” Harrison told NBC.

Harrison said he relied on his “common sense” to level the nosediving plane while reaching across Allen’s slumped body.

“I was pretty calm and collected the whole time because I knew it was a life-or-death situation,” he said. “Either you do what you have to do to control the situation or you’re gonna die.”

Harrison, of Lakeland, landed the plane at Palm Beach International Airport a short time later with the assistance of air traffic controller Bobby Morgan.

With Post wires



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