It sounds more like an NC-17 dream than reality — the man People magazine called “The Sexiest Doctor Alive” leaped into action to save a life when a passenger on his flight to Israel went into anaphylactic shock.
But you know what they say about Israel: If you will it, it is no dream.
29-year-old Dr. Mikhail Varshavski, known to millions of fans as Dr. Mike, was two hours into a flight from New York City to Tel Aviv when he heard shouts asking for a doctor. Matt Faraco, a 26-year-old who was on a trip to Israel with Birthright, had gone into anaphylactic shock. “I felt my throat start to close,” Faraco told Fox News. “I don’t normally have allergies and there was no EpiPen on the plane.” Anaphylaxis is a fatal condition if not treated.
30,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and without an EpiPen, Varshavski located epinephrine in the plane’s emergency kit, and managed to dose the lifesaving drug and insert it into Faraco’s leg muscle. “Had we left the situation to deteriorate we would have risked having to open his airways with an incision,” said Varshavski, who witnessed Faraco’s throat open via the light on his iPhone. He spent the rest of the flight with Faraco, monitoring his breathing. Doctor and patient checked up on each other in Jerusalem this week, exchanging high-fives. “All I can say is how thankful I am,” Faraco said. “He really saved me.”
While Faraco enjoyed his return to health on a Birthright bus, Varshavski travelled the country with America’s Voices in Israel, an organization that takes American influencers and celebrities on missions to Israel. The Staten Island local had previously visited the country as a Birthright participant himself, at 18. Varshavski, who came to the United States as a Soviet Jewish émigrés at six years old, has amassed unlikely fame via Instagram and YouTube, where he drew the notice of BuzzFeed, and then People Magazine. A combination of health tips, physique, dog ownership, and occasional relationships with women like 2015 Miss Universe winner Pia Wurtzbach have given Dr. Mike a social media following of over three million, in addition to his work as a family physician.
“We in the United States need to be more cognizant of what’s going on in terms of scientific breakthroughs coming out of Israel,” the doctor told Israeli news station Arutz Sheva, hailing Israel’s “truly revolutionary products that will change the world, will change how we practice medicine.”
Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny