A 27-year-old medical doctor returning from his best friend’s wedding helped a Nigerian passenger deliver her baby when she went into labor mid-flight last month.
Dr Sij Hemal, a second-year urology resident at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, was awaiting a glass of champagne on an Air France flight from Paris to New York on Dec 17 when fellow passenger, Toyin Ogundipe, 41, went into labor a week early. They were four hours from their destination and two hours away from a safe emergency landing when flight attendants asked for medical help over the loudspeaker.
Dr Sij indicated he was a doctor and when told what was going on, he jumped into action to deliver the passenger’s baby boy half-way through the eight-hour flight. He discovered at that point that the person seated next to him was Dr Stefanie Ortolan, a pediatrician from France. The pair were ushered over to Ogundipe who was complaining of chest pains and dizziness.
At first, Dr Hemal thought it could be kidney stones until she revealed to him that she was 39 weeks pregnant.
He said: “She was covered with a blanket so I couldn’t see that she was pregnant, but the pain she was describing sounded like contractions.”
Using the Air France flight’s medical supplies to monitor vitals and contractions, Dr Sij helped the woman safely deliver her son after 30 minutes of pushing. After delivery, he then a sed shoestring to tie and cut the umbilical cord for baby Jake.
Baby Jake now has a US passport because they were flying in US airspace. His mother is a Nigerian banker, who lives and works in the UK.
Speaking to Daily Mail Online, Dr Hemal said he was just glad everything went smoothly. He said his biggest fear was that the mother could die from bleeding or shock after birth. But looking back, he insists it all went as well as it could have done. He also said he was relieved it all happened before he’d had any champagne.