An Indian American doctor had to make an emergency delivery when a 41-year-old woman went into labor 35,000 feet in the air.
Dr. Sij Hemal, 27, was on an Air France flight from Paris back to New York after attending a friend’s wedding in New Delhi, when he was summoned by crew members who were looking for a medical professional as Toyin Ogundipe, who was traveling with her 4-year-old daughter, began having contractions, according to a Mirror report.
“She was complaining of back pain. At first, I thought it might be kidney stones, but after she told me she was pregnant, I knew she was going into labor,” Hemal told CNN.
“Her contractions were about 10 minutes apart, so the pediatrician and I began to monitor her vital signs and keep her comfortable,” Hemal told the Mirror.
Within an hour though, Ogundipe’s contractions accelerated and they occurred every seven, five and finally two minutes apart, “that’s when we knew we were going to deliver on the plane,” Hemal told the Mirror.
In the meantime Hemal had insisted that the flight continue onto JFK International Airport as they were only four hours away and an emergency landing would have required a two-hour diversion to a U.S. military base in the Azores Islands, but instead, the crew moved Ogundipe to first class, which had fewer passengers and more space, according to CNN,
The doctors used instruments and supplies in the flight’s scant medical kit to routinely check Ogundipe’s vital signs, including blood pressure, oxygen rate and pulse.
After safely delivering the baby boy, Hemal even tied the umbilical cord with a makeshift surgical clamp and a shoe string.
Hemal is a second-year urology resident at Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute and has previously delivered seven babies while in medical school.
Both mother and son were sent off to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center upon landing.
Hemal told CNN that before the call, he was planning on watching the movie “Side Effects” while drinking a glass of champagne and going off to sleep as he was tired from a full day of travel and still had to take a connecting flight to Cleveland, Ohio upon reaching JFK International Airport.
“I was pretty tired from jet lag. I thought I’d just have a drink and fall asleep. As it turned out, I’m glad I didn’t drink anything,” Hemal told the Mirror.