Ski trip ends in life saving action for surgeon Katie

A Liverpool brain surgeon on a ski holiday found herself called into action when a friend collapsed with a pierced lung.

The friend, a retired doctor, was minutes from death after a broken rib punctured a lung and air started to fill the chest.

Katie Gilkes, 36, a consultant neurosurgeon at The Walton Centre, plunged a needle into the man’s side, releasing the air – and saving his life. 

“He realised what was happening as he collapsed and pointed to his medical bag just before he blacked out,” recalled Katie.

“I grabbed a needle and just stuck it into the side of his chest. It is something I haven’t had to do since I worked in an emergency department ten years ago, so I was a little anxious, but thankfully it worked.”

Katie’s swift action undoubtedly saved the life of Ian Scott, a retired doctor in Derby; and she has been presented with a special staff award by Walton Centre chief executive Dr Liz Mear, in recognition of her actions.

The drama happened on the last night of a ski holiday in Italy for Katie and a group of friends. Walton Centre colleagues knew nothing of the incident until Ian and his family wrote to them, praising Katie and thanking her for saving Ian’s life. 

Son James Scott, a consultant stroke physician, said: “If Miss Gilkes hadn't stuck the needle into his chest when he collapsed in the hotel he would have died - no question of that. I'm quite used to being thanked by my patients for what I consider just to be doing my job and I expect Miss Gilkes is too - but this was quite, quite different.

“In a hotel in Italy, without any backup, Miss Gilkes took a pretty bold step that without doubt saved my dad. My mum still has a husband, my sisters and I still have a father, and my kids still have a granddad because of her bravery in a situation massively removed from anything she's used to dealing with. We'll never forget that.”