Dr. uses newly-banned Apple Watch blood oxygen feature to save stricken airline passenger

Apple Watch Ultra with the Blood Oxygen reader on
(Image credit: Future)

As Apple remains embroiled in a legal battle over its blood oxygen sensors in the US, users worldwide continue to find the feature useful.

While on what he likely thought would be a peaceful, uneventful flight on the way to his Holiday in Verona, one doctor saved a passenger’s life thanks to an Apple Watch.

The BBC reports that Dr Rashid Riaz borrowed the Apple Watch from a flight attendant, and then used it to determine his impromptu patient's blood oxygen level. So much for the feature being useless.

Apple Watch saves another life

When the elderly lady was taken ill, Dr Riaz stepped in. Discovering that she had a history of heart problems, he sought out an Apple Watch so that he could monitor her blood oxygen until the flight touched down, and they could pass her over to medical healthcare professionals at their destination.

Once they’d established her low blood oxygen with the Apple Watch, Dr Riaz used an emergency oxygen cylinder to help the oxygen saturation of her blood. The Watch helped him monitor her condition for the rest of the flight.

When asked about the Apple Watch, Dr. Riaz said that it’s a “lesson in how we can improve in-flight journeys in this sort of emergency”. He thinks that flights should have other “basic gadgets” like blood oxygen readers to help passengers in the event of other emergencies.

Blood oxygen readings are useful, it turns out

Apple and Masimo, maker of blood oxygen meters, are currently in a legal battle in the States over a patent that the latter says the former has broken. As a result, Apple has been forced to cease the sale of Apple Watches with the feature on board.

Masimo’s CEO has been vocal throughout proceedings — ‘Apple’s blood oxygen reader is not very good, buy ours instead’. As an extra feature on a smartwatch, however, Apple’s easily portable and all-in-one solution has already saved lives — and not just the life here.

‘Better off without it’ indeed.

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Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.