Widow: Defibrillator Not Used on Husband Because of Hairy Chest

A New Mexico woman whose husband suffered a heart attack on a Southwest flight and later died told NBC News that he wasn't immediately hooked up to a defibrillator by flight attendants because his chest was "too hairy." The woman contacted local media Thursday to draw attention to the April tragedy because she discovered she likely can't file a lawsuit but wants Southwest to take a second look at their "training policies."

Caroline Jordan, 52, said she and her husband Jack Jordan, 62, were on a flight from Los Angeles to Albuquerque when her husband went unconscious. Flight attendants asked that any medical professionals on the flight assist, and two came forward to administer CPR and oxygen, Jordan said. After about a half hour, a woman — who Jordan could not identify as staff or a passenger — darted from the rear of the plane asking why the ailing man had not been hooked up to the on-board defibrillator (AED), Jordan said.

"The female flight attendant says, 'because his chest is too hairy,'" recalled Jordan. The flight attendants were informed that there was a razor in the AED kit, but "I don’t know if they ever got the patches on him," Jordan said. Shortly after, the plane landed and her husband was met by paramedics, who could not resuscitate him. Jordan said she has been told she cannot file a lawsuit because there was no autopsy, but she's not concerned about money. "This is going to happen to somebody else, and it might already have," Jordan said.

Southwest spokeswoman Michelle Agnew told NBC News, "our flight attendants receive initial and annual recurrent CPR and AED training." The incident has been investigated, and reports showed that flight attendants adhered to the protocol that is covered in training, Agnew said. Southwest did not respond when asked to send a copy of protocol staff are required to follow during a medical in-flight emergency.

Image: Jack and Caroline Jordan.
Jack and Caroline Jordan. Jack Jordan suffered a heart attack on a Southwest flight in April. His wife claims flight attendants did not immediately defibrillate him because his chest was “too hairy.” Courtesy Caroline Jordan