Staff nurse Leela Baby had just the job – and the name – when the emergency call went out on the 0150 Air India flight she was travelling on: Is there a doctor or nurse on the plane?
For passenger Simi Maria Philip was seven months pregnant and she was going into labour, resulting in the pilot’s call for help with the emergency delivery.
Leela, a senior oncology nurse at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, left her husband to settle into the long-haul flight to Cochin, and volunteered for action.
And within a couple of hours Simi had given birth to baby Shawn, and the flight was diverted from its flight path to India, and touching down in Frankfurt, so that mother and baby could be taken to hospital.
Leela, was helped by Dr Inshad Ibrahim, an A&E physician from North Wales, and Dr Richu Philip, a junior doctor working at Birmingham City Hospital, who were both on the flight and offered their services.
Leela, who was presented with an award for her work, said: “I was travelling with my husband, Joseph, from Heathrow to Cochin, when all of a sudden there was an announcement asking for any experienced doctors or nurses on board who can help with an emergency labour.
“It’s a long time since I delivered a baby so I waited at first but when a second announcement went out I came forward and volunteered.
“They asked me if I had experience working in labour and I said I have experience of working in labour when I first started working as a nurse in India, and although I’m working as a chemotherapy nurse now, I am confident I can help.
“They told me there was a woman – Simi – who’s 29 weeks pregnant and in emergency labour.
“I then went ahead and asked Simi how she was doing and how the pain was. She said she was in a lot of pain and that she was having contractions. Soon after this, her waters broke so we took her to a bed by the cabin crew area.
“We examined her and the baby’s head was crowning. Then we delivered the baby safely. Both mother and baby were safe. Whilst the doctors looked after the baby, I carefully took out the placenta.
“The flight then landed in Frankfurt, Germany and both mother and baby were taken to the University hospital.”
When the plane did finally land in India, word got round about the midwife in the sky, and the Rotary Club of Cochin, presented Leela with an award for excellence.
Leela added: “I am in touch with Simi and she and the baby are doing fine now. I am just glad I, and others, was able to help.
“It was nice, and much unexpected, to be given the award. It was certainly an eventful flight!”