Forced Landing of China Eastern Airlines Plane - Chief Stewardess Li Li Na Arrived in L.A. for Rehabilitation

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Chinese International Daily News
December 29, 1994
Los Angeles

Ms. Li Li Na, chief stewardess of China Eastern Airlines, was injured during an air incident last year in which the pilots lost control of the aircraft during a flight over the Pacific Ocean, causing it to violently lose and gain altitude, pitching up and down. Ms. Li was thrown around the cabin, sustaining injuries to her head which resulted in severe and permanent brain injuries. This mainland China aircraft made a forced landing in Alaska so that emergency medical treatment could be rendered to Ms. Li and numerous other crew members and passengers.

Ms. Li arrived in Los Angeles on Dec. 28. She took a Northwest Airlines flight under the care of her husband, Mr. Shan Zhen, and International S.O.S. assistance nurse Ms. Su Mei Yin, and was immediately transferred to Daniel Freeman Hospital in Inglewood, California for medical treatment and rehabilitation.

After a long flight of 16 hours from Shanghai, Dr. Norman Namerow, who had previously traveled to Shanghai for Li Li Na's medical treatment, and physician Levy, made a preliminary examination for about an hour on Li Li Na's physical condition. According to the physicians, their initial observation was that her condition was unchanged. Any detailed information would still have to be confirmed by further tests and medical examination. However, chief physician Dr. Namerow said that there was no major improvement after he compared the current physical condition of Ms. Li Li Na with her prior condition that he had seen while examining her in Hua Shan Hospital in Shanghai last October.

Attorney Mr. Michael Baum, whose firm represents Ms. Li and her husband Mr. Shan Zhen, made all the arrangements for Li Li Na's trip to the U.S. Mr. Baum indicated that in the rehabilitation center at Daniel Freeman Hospital which was the most advanced rehabilitation facility in the States, a team of physicians headed by Dr. Namerow would conduct a series of medical treatments on Ms. Li, with a view of achieving the first objective of allowing her to be able to swallow food on her own (rather than having to continue to use the feeding tube inserted through her abdomen into her stomach) and to sit in a wheel chair. As the preliminary plan, Ms. Li Li Na would stay in Los Angeles for six months and any further medical treatment here would depend upon her rehabilitation progress.

Due to the fact that Ms. Li was confined to a bed and could not move by herself, earlier in the morning of Dec. 28 she was transported to the Shanghai airport by ambulance from Hua Shan Hospital. Northwest airlines used 9 passenger seats to set up a special temporary bed and treatment area on board the aircraft for her to sleep. Mr. Shan Zhen and nurse Ms. Su Mei Yin took turns caring for her during the flight. As it was indicated by Mr. Shan Zhen, because there was no grinding machine to process food on board the aircraft during the whole time period of 16 hours of flight, he had to feed Ms. Li twice with milk and other liquid food through the feeding tube which was installed in her stomach from the lower abdomen of her body.

International S.O.S. special nurse Ms. Su Mei Yin had flown from Hong Kong on Dec. 27 to join Ms. Li Li Na in Shanghai before they took the same flight to Los Angeles. Then she got on another flight back to Hong Kong the same day. She told the reporter that everything was normal during the flight because Ms. Li Li Na was under very special and attentive care of everybody. This smooth operation was also credited to her extensive experience in special medical nursing and the fact that she usually took this kind of mission on an average of once every week.

After the aircraft landed at LAX airport yesterday morning, Ms. Li Li Na was taken by ambulance and transferred swiftly to Daniel Freeman Hospital. After this long haul flight, Ms. Li Li Na looked a little tired but was in good spirits.

Her attorneys Mr. Michael Baum, Mr. Yan Xin Ben and Mr. Robert Foss all went to the airport to meet Ms. Li and her party and accompanied her to the hospital. They also talked with the physicians and hospital staff about the arrangements for medical treatment and admission to the hospital.

The attorneys also made special and considerable arrangements such as employment of two shifts of Chinese interpreters to assist Ms. Li Li Na and Mr. Shan Zhen 16 hours a day, provision of special Chinese food and Chinese TV programs in the hospital, etc.

A picture of Ms. Li Li Na was carried on the same page of this newspaper, showing her lying on a stretcher inside of the ambulance with an explanatory note: Former chief stewardess Ms. Li Li Na was being carried onto an ambulance to be transferred from airport to hospital.

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NB: This article has been translated from Chinese and edited to add factual content and clarification.

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