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Gridley Herald - Gridley, CA
  • Gridley doctor recognized for saving pilot's life

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  • The staff at Biggs-Gridley Memorial Hospital's Medical Specialty Center already knew what a special man Dr. Rex Nzeribe was but his kindness and medical expertise came in handy on a United flight from Chicago to Sacramento June 9, 2013. As Dr. Nzeribe explained, he had just attended a medical conference in Chicago, happy with his seat because as a tall man he was grateful for extra leg room. He was planning to sleep on his way back to California when he heard the announcement, “Do we have any medical physicians on board?” Dr. Nzeribe immediately ran to the back of the plane to find an off-duty pilot lying on the floor. He remembered seeing the pilot in uniform walking by from a connecting flight earlier. A nurse was checking his pulse and a Podiatrist was asking the pilot his name and where he was from when Dr. Nzeribe approached and the Podiatrist said, “He's all yours.” The doctor and nurse team worked to stabilize the off-duty pilot while plane personnel gave them what few medical tools they had, such as a pediatric stethoscope. The off-duty pilot was Hypoglycemic and had passed out. When the pilot of the plane asked if they needed to make an emergency landing Dr. Nzeribe could assure him they could continue and that they were working to stabilize the off-duty pilot and bring his blood pressure up. “It was an interesting experience spending 65 percent of the trip of the flight squatting by this man. He was embarrassed and wanted to get up off the floor but I had to tell him no,” the doctor explained. When the plane landed in Sacramento there were EMT's and an ambulance standing by waiting so Dr. Nzeribe felt his job was done. He received a grateful letter from United Airlines stating, “We are grateful that you were so generous in sharing your personal time, compassion and expertise with another passenger on flight 1002 on June 9, 2013,” the letter stated before telling him they were depositing 12,500 MileagePlus bonus miles on his United Mileage Plus account as a way to thank him for helping in the unexpected emergency. When asked if this had ever happened to him before, to have to jump in to help someone he said it had but the other times he had been relieved, not by himself. Dr. Nzeribe came to work at the Medical Specialty Center April 16, 2013. He had previously planned to attend the June conference before coming to work here and it is good that he did. He attended The Global Leadership Summit in Schaumburg, Illinois August 14-15, 2013 which was a gathering of more than 170,000 leaders around the world, representing more than 14,000 churches. He heard some very interesting speakers including former Hewlitt Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Dr. Nzeribe's specialty is Internal Medicine but he did his Fellowship in Geriatrics. He comes to Gridley to work from Crystal Lake, Illinois, about one hour northwest of Chicago. He lived there five years after growing up in Nigeria, Africa and attending school and college there. He did his residency for three years at Kaiser in Santa Clara followed by his Fellowship at Stanford for a year. He was a Practicing Physician in Nigeria since 1983 before coming to Chicago which makes this his 30th year as a doctor. Dr. Nzeribe has a daughter in san Jose who just started kindergarten. In his spare time, the doctor enjoys bicycling and tennis. He also enjoys sightseeing, something he has enjoyed in Chico and Oroville so far. While living in Illinois, he rode his bike 32 miles in Sparta, Wisconsin, known as the Bicycling Capital of America. It is located in the center of 101 miles of state trails with the famous Elroy-Sparta Trail. Their website boasts the amazing rock tunnels, something Dr. Nzeribe described as very dark while riding through. He said he enjoys working at the busy Medical Specialty Center and the people he works with.
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