The airplane left Mumbai, India at 11:40 p.m. on February 10. It was a long flight, 16 ½ hours, and Niketan “Nick” Diora (Old Bridge) was relaxing. He put on a movie, “Hotel Transylvania.” He had been in India for his cousin’s wedding and was looking forward to returning to New Jersey. It was a great wedding.
Suddenly, about three hours into the flight, there was a commotion three rows in front of him. A man, who appeared to be in his mid-40s, was in a panic.
“He had stroke-like symptoms,” Mr. Diora said. “Over the public address system, the crew asked if there was a doctor or nurse on the plane. There wasn’t, but I figured I was the closest thing.”
Indeed. Mr. Diora holds certifications in Lifesaving, Water Safety Instructor, CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator). They came in handy that night.
“I cleared the row he was in, and had him lay down,” he said. “I told him to breathe deeply as much as he could and I checked his pulse, which was irregular. I asked the crew to get me a defibrillator, which fortunately happened to be right over his seat.
“Just then he lost consciousness and his pulse was gone. So I took a scissors to cut away his shirt and opened up the defibrillator. I gave him two shocks. On the second shock, his pulse rate came back and so did his consciousness. It turned out it was a heart attack.”
Mr. Diora was well prepared for this emergency. He’s taken seven or eight classes in lifesaving and first aid at Middlesex County College, all from Rhonda Zampetti (Edison), who has taught at MCC since 2000 and has been a Red Cross instructor for 25 years.
“She’s a great teacher,” he said.
Ms. Zampetti explained how the defibrillator works.
“The AED shocks the heart, and temporarily stops it so it can re-set,” she said. “I was really proud of him. He told me the story as I was teaching a CPR class, so I got to hear it in front of my students.”
Mr. Diora emigrated from India with his parents in 2000. He spent two years at Old Bridge High School before coming to Middlesex in 2002, majoring in mathematics and education. He graduated in 2006 and transferred to Rutgers, graduating in December of 2010. He has started his own diamond wholesale business, which has four employees.
“There is no question he saved this man’s life,” Ms. Zampetti said. “Within four to six minutes, brain damage sets in. Nick not only saved his life, but by helping him so quickly, he has given him a high quality of life.”