Wigan sports doctor returning from rugby league match saves woman in flight drama

A top sports doctor based in Wigan had to leap into action to save a woman’s life on a flight back from a rugby league international.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 8:58 am
Dr Patrick Ryder back in his surgery

Dr Patrick Ryder, who is the team medic for Rugby League Ireland and is also the lead doctor at the DW Stadium, was urgently called to help a very poorly elderly passenger on the plane coming back to Liverpool from Alicante in southern Spain.

Dr Ryder was travelling with the Irish national team which had comfortably beaten the Spanish in a qualifying clash for the next Rugby League World Cup.

His expertise proved vital as he cared for the woman throughout the flight and ensured she could walk off the plane when it arrived back in the UK.

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He waved off any suggestions that he had done anything out of the ordinary but said the passenger, who suffered from serious breathing condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), was lucky as he had the full kit with him which is on the sidelines for top-flight international sports matches.

Dr Ryder, who is also based at Dr Pals Surgery which has GPs’ facilities in Ashton and Golborne, said: “It was quite fortuitious that she was on the flight with a professional rugby league team and I had all my gear on board.

“She was sat next to the captain Bob Beswick and she became ill. They called for me because she was very ill and I got my kit and sat with the lady.

“This all started about 20 minutes into the two-and-a-half hour flight. They were going to divert the plane to Madrid but I said we should assess her every 10 minutes and she responded well to my treatment.

“Planes do have a defibrillator, certain drugs and oxygen on board but I had the full resuscitation bag and all the drugs.

“I had my kit with me because the first 24 hours after a match are critical for recovery and it was at my seat in case the players needed anything on the flight.

“It’s my job, it’s just how I work. I disappeared into the sunset when we got to the airport. The doors close and you move on to the next case, that’s my work.”

The drama thousands of feet above the planet happened on Dr Ryder’s first trip abroad with the Irish team hoping to secure a place in the 13-man code’s biggest international competition.

He is no stranger to rugby league though, as he is currently team medic at Leigh Centurions and has worked with a host of Super League clubs including Salford Red Devils and Catalans Dragons.

He has also been the main medical man called on to look after crowds at Wigan Athletic football and Wigan Warriors rugby league matchdays for the past six years.

In addition to all his sporting adventures he also has a part-time role with Dr Pals, which is based around ensuring smaller-sized GP practices continue to thrive within the NHS.