In 1995, Paula Dixon boarded an airplane. She had crashed her motorcycle on her way to the airport, but made it there and boarded even though she was injured.
Once on the airplane she started complaining of chest pain. Angus Wallace, Britain’s most respected orthopedic surgeon happened to be on the flight with another doctor. They assessed the woman and determined that she was most likely suffering from tension pneumothorax.
Her rib had punctured the membrane around her lung, which broke the airtight seal in her chest cavity. Wallace decided to operate on Dixon 35,000 feet in the air. He used part of a coat hanger sterilized with brandy to insert a tube into her chest cavity.
This procedure allowed the air to escape and decompress her chest. Dixon recovered within minutes. Wallace said that after the operation, he drank the rest of the brandy.