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So, One Passenger Sucked Urine Out of Another

So, One Passenger Sucked Urine Out of Another
Jennifer Billock

Two Chinese surgeons performed a particularly invasive procedure on a plane to save a man who was in horrific pain and going into shock. The man suffered from an enlarged prostate and his bladder was blocked. Lucky for him, his fellow passengers were able to come to the rescue. 

A man with an enlarged prostate was lucky that two surgeons were on his recent flight from China to New York. Ten hours into the flight, a medical emergency was called—the elderly man’s belly was swollen, he was sweating, and he was beginning to show signs of going into shock. Because of his enlarged prostate, the two surgeons, Surgeons Zhang Hong from the First Affiliated Hospital of Jinan University in Guangzhou, and Xiao Zhanxiang from Hainan Provincial People’s Hospital in Haikou, were able to determine the man’s bladder had about a liter of urine trapped inside.

Surgeons Zhang Hong (left) and Xiao Zhanxiang reflect on their mid-flight medical emergency.

“If we had not dealt with the situation in time, the patient’s life would have been at risk,” Zhang told the South China Morning Post.

In order to help the man, the two surgeons put together an instrument to help get the urine out. They used a syringe needle, oxygen mask tubing, tape, and straws from milk boxes. The man was laid on his side in the back of the airplane on top of some blankets. The surgeons tried to relieve some of the internal pressure by using the needle, but it wasn’t large enough—so Zhang siphoned the urine out through the straws himself.

The doctors used tape, tubing and straws to perform an emergency procedure on the patient.

“It was an emergency situation,” Zhang told the South China Morning Post. “I couldn’t figure out another way. When I saw that the man could hardly bear the pain any more, my only thought was how to get the urine out of his bladder.”


[Image: Photo source, China Southern Airlines via WeChat]

View Comments (13)


  1. DCAFly

    November 25, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    Was that first picture really necessary?

  2. skidooman

    November 25, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    A solution that would have made MacGyver proud. And definitely something admirable. Kudos.

    Yes, all readers have a yuk moment. That makes it even more of a feat.

  3. jtrsss524

    November 25, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Wow. Talk about taking one for the team!! Way to go Docs!

  4. jonsail

    November 25, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    Fantastic. I wonder if American doctors would have done that.

  5. Bradhattan

    November 26, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    The TMZ-esque title cheapens the amazing performance of saving a life. Just saying.

  6. Jamester

    November 27, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Title of this story is completely misleading and poorly chosen. This man saved another man’s life. Imagine having an enlarged prostate issue in such an irregular air pressure environment (i.e. 35,000ft) and you would do anything to relieve the pressure. Jennifer, you should be ashamed.

  7. khamlet

    November 27, 2019 at 10:01 am

    Siphoning is NOT the same thing as sucking…

  8. marjiep

    November 27, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Agree. Title misleads and denigrates their heroic actions. Hurray, applause for the docs, the flight personnel.

  9. flyingdutchman

    November 28, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Jennifer – What a shameful headline for a heroic deed. Yellow journalism at its finest?

  10. ct_ga

    November 30, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Outstanding job, doctors!! Your actions renew my pride in our profession! You should be proud – I am proud of your actions.

    With respect to jonsail’s comment: the doctors figured out a problem in a resource-limited setting, and did what they needed to do to solve it. American doctors do this every day…my hope is that your hypothetical question was in the spirit of “do American doctors remember how to function without a team of 20 people, MRI, CT, etc”…this is done at critical access hospitals every day.

    If the hypothetical was was in the spirit of “would the trust fund baby American docs stoop to touch a patient, let along siphon urine with their mouths?”: In the decade since I started clinical training, I’ve been regularly urinated, defecated, bled, coughed and spit on…and threatened, assaulted and sued by patients for the privilege. What do you do for your community every day?

  11. drvannostren

    December 2, 2019 at 3:12 am

    Incredibly gross and brilliant. I’m still a bit confused though as to how it gets blocked…maybe I don’t wanna know. My next confusion would be, if there’s a dam, the water (or piss) is blocked, but if you put a hole in that dam, you don’t need to fish the water out, it’ll come shooting out, so when they poked a hole in this dude big enough for a straw, I figured he would’ve been shooting out like a geyser.

    Again, super gross, but amazing work by the doctors, kudos.

  12. 96SS

    December 3, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    The prostate was so enlarged, it squeezed off the urinary flow from the bladder.

  13. smith80678


    December 4, 2019 at 6:58 am

    The urine wont shoot out, it will likely dribble inside the torso. So to get it to come externally the Doctors had to suck it with a straw. Would Americans Doctors have done this? probably not. They would have stabilized the patient until the plane landed.

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