A transatlantic flight arrived in America with an extra passenger after a Ugandan woman gave birth to a baby girl with the help of two doctors aboard.
Passengers cheered and applauded the arrival of little Sasha aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 59 from Amsterdam to Boston on New Year’s Eve, and even offered the new-born baby food.
The healthy 6 1/2lb infant was immediately taken to Massachusetts General Hospital on landing in Boston. But she is considered a Canadian citizen because she was born in Canadian airspace.
The mother, a Uganda citizen whose name was not released, was eight-months pregnant and travelling with her toddler daughter and a friend, fellow passengers said.
Six hours into the eight-hour fight, the crew asked over the intercom if there were any doctors aboard.
Dr Paresh Thakker, returning home from his medical school reunion in India, and Dr Natarajan Raman, who had been at a wedding in India, both responded to the call. They found the woman doubled over and wailing in her seat in row 33 with labour pains.
The flight crew asked Dr Thakkar, a former emergency room doctor who now works as the medical director at a Massachusetts health centre, if he wanted the plane to make an emergency landing.
“I said, ’No, let me examine her first. I examined her and the head was coming out. So I said, ’No, it’s an emergency and we will do it here,’ “ he told the Boston Globe.
The woman lay across three seats in the back of the plane while a couple of fellow-passengers held up a blanket to curtain off a makeshift delivery room. Flight attendants handed the doctors rubber gloves, a clamp and scissors from an emergency medical kit as they delivered the baby in about 30 minutes.
“She looked perfect,” Dr Thakkar said. “She opened her eyes and was very happy.” The mother thanked the doctors, telling them: “We love you.”
Dr Raman, an oncologist in Minnesota, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he had not delivered a baby for 20 years. “It just came right back to me,” he said. “It’s somewhere stored in the back of your mind and it comes together at the right time.”
“I’m usually dealing with patients at the end of life, so it was a very pleasant surprise dealing with the beginning of life. But I’m not planning to switch specialties.”
The airline does not restrict travel by pregnant women, though it recommends that women in their eighth month of pregnancy consult a doctor before flying.