Toyin Ogundipe, 41, has given birth to a baby boy mid-air about 35,000 feet above sea level aboard an Air France flight.
Mrs. Ogundipe, a banker based in the UK, delivered the baby four hours away from her destination Paris-to-New York.
A passenger, Dr. Sij Hemal, 27, a second-year urology resident at Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urology and Kidney Institute, helped Ogundipe deliver her baby on December 17, 2017, according to clevelandclinic.org.
The mother of two who lives in the UK had gone into labor a week earlier than her delivery date, and was in birth pains and was having contractions about 10 minutes apart.
“I was pretty tired from jet lag,” recalls Dr. Hemal, who a day earlier had attended his best friend’s wedding. “I thought I’d just have a drink and fall asleep. As it turned out, I’m glad I didn’t drink anything.”
“Her contractions were about 10 minutes apart, so the pediatrician ( Dr. Susan Shepherd, of Senlis, France ) and I began to monitor her vital signs and keep her comfortable,” explains Hemal.
They also suggested Toyin be moved to the roomier first-class section, which had very few passengers. “My ticket to first class!” he adds, with a laugh.
While the flight’s air hostesses tended to Toyin’s traveling companion, her 4-year-old daughter, Amy, the doctors used instruments and supplies in the flight’s scanty medical kit to routinely check her vital signs, including blood pressure, oxygen rate and pulse. Very soon, however, their activities heightened.
Within the course of an hour, Toyin’s contractions accelerated; they occurred seven, then five and finally two minutes apart. “That’s when we knew we were going to deliver on the plane,” Hemal recounts.
Although his practice area is urology, Hemal delivered seven babies during medical school, but never on the floor of a jetliner.
“We are trained to stay calm and think clearly in emergency situations,” he adds.
“I just tried to think ahead to what might go wrong, and come up with a creative solution.”
Toyin recalls being rather composed throughout the delivery, thanks to the calm manner of the two doctors and the professional treatment they provided: “I was relaxed because I knew I was in safe hands."
“They did everything a doctor or midwife would have done if I was in the labor room in the hospital. Even better, if you ask me.”
After about 30 minutes of pushing, Toyin gave birth to a boy, whom she named Jake.
Hemal safely removed the placenta, used a surgical clamp (and a shoestring) to tie off the umbilical cord, and then cut it off with a pair of scissors.
Dr. Shepherd assessed Jake’s health, which appeared to be normal; soon, he began nursing on his mother.
Upon arrival at JFK, Toyin, Jake and Amy were whisked away by ambulance to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, just four miles from the airport.
Toyin was released later that day, and is recovering with her children at the home of friends in New Jersey.