Flight heart attack victim due back in UAE after Iran surgery

James Eisenhart, who underwent surgery in Tehran, has praised Iran's medical care.

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DUBAI // An American treated for a heart attack in Iran after falling ill on a plane has been provided with an air ambulance back to the UAE.

James Eisenhart, 52, was flying from Dubai to Seattle last Friday when he fell ill an hour after takeoff.

The Emirates plane was diverted to Tehran and he went to hospital.

"Blood pressure, heart rate, everything is OK," said Arezoo Bahrami, a nurse in the coronary care unit, yesterday. "The doctor allowed him [to fly] and go back to Seattle."  She added that Mr Eisenhart's wife was flying to Dubai to meet him.

An air ambulance was dispatched from the emirate, said Reza Ragabi, an Emirates Airline employee in Tehran who assisted Mr Eisenhart.

He needed an angioplasty and drugs to prevent arterial blockages, said his nurse, Faranak Ressalei.

Mr Eisenhart praised the care of the airline crew and hospital staff.

"They've been quite concerned and making sure everything is going well for me," he said on Sunday.

Swiss officials, who represent US interests in Iran, looked in on him, said a US State Department spokeswoman, Beth Gosselin. "We understand he is doing well and we appreciate the good medical care being provided to him in Iran," she said.

The incident occurred amid tension between the US and Iran over the latter's nuclear programme.

"Despite international sanctions against the Iranian people which also endanger their lives, yesterday we helped an American citizen," Abbas Mosayebi, a spokesman for the Iranian Civil Aviation Organisation, said last Saturday, according to the Isna Iranian news agency.