A Chinese doctor has been hailed as a hero after saving the life of a plane passenger who suffered epilepsy mid-flight using a spoon and a few toothpicks.

Tian Yu, 38, was on flight CA1478 with Air China on September 23 when a fellow passenger was found unconscious and foaming at the mouth at the back of the plane, according to Shanghai Daily.

Tian, with a background in traditional Chinese medicine, used toothpicks to stimulate the man's acupuncture points on the head, helping him to come around.

Tian Yu and the patient, a male passenger in his late 30s, were on a 1.5-hour flight from Kashgar to Urumqi in western China's Xinjiang Province.


Tian works at the department of rheumatology in Shanghai's Longhua Hospital, but has been working at the Number 2 Hospital in Kashgar on secondment.

He said he heard the cabin crew broadcasting a call looking for a doctor, so he immediately went over to help.

The patient had already lost conscious and was foaming at the mouth.

The patient's friends, who were sitting next to him, said he had suffered epileptic seizures in the past, but had not been on medication, according to a report on Xinmin.cn.

Tian quickly asked for a towel and a spoon from the flight attendants.

To stop the man from choking, Tian used his fingers to remove the vomit from the patient's mouth.

Then he wrapped the spoon with the towel and put it in the patient's mouth to stop him from biting his own tongue.

In order to prevent the patient from suffering continuous seizure, Tian asked the cabin crew to give him a few toothpicks.

With the pointy sticks, he managed to bring the patient around by stimulating several acupuncture points, including the baihui aperture and sishengcong aperture on top of the head.

The doctor said he had decided to use toothpicks due to the restricted conditions on the aircraft.

He told a reporter from Shanghai Daily: "There was no needle available on the plane, and toothpicks were the best replacement I could find."

The patient reportedly regained conscious after Tian performed five minutes of stimulation.

Around 20 minutes later, the plane landed at the Urumqi Diwopu International Airport, where paramedics picked up the sick passenger for further treatment.