There were a lot of surprises on a flight to Hawaii last week, starting with the birth of a baby to a woman who didn’t know she was pregnant.
Not only did there happen to be a doctor on board the Salt Lake City-Honolulu flight, but there were also three neonatal intensive care nurses — and all of them immediately got to work.
“About halfway through the flight, there was an emergency call, and I’ve experienced this before and usually they’re pretty clear asking if there is a doctor on board,” Hawaii Pacific Health family medicine physician Dr. Dale Glenn said in a news release from the hospital system. “This call was not like this and it was fairly urgent. I let the flight attendant know that I’m a physician and she said we have a woman having a baby, so I hurried over to see what I could do.”
The three NICU nurses, who work at North Kansas City Hospital in Missouri, also sprang into action, according to the news release from Hawaii Pacific Health.
“I went to see what was going on and see her there holding a baby in her hands, and it’s little,” said nurse Lani Bamfield.
The mother, Lavinia “Lavi” Mounga, had unexpectedly welcomed a baby boy, whom she named Raymond, while on her way to a family vacation. He was born at 29 weeks.
“I just didn’t know I was pregnant, and then (Raymond) just came out of nowhere,” Mounga told Hawaii Pacific Health.
For the remainder of the Delta flight, Glenn, Bamfield and fellow nurses Amanda Beeding and Mimi Ho took care of Mounga and her baby. The team improvised with available equipment and kept the baby stable for three hours until the plane landed.
Glenn, according to the release, relied on wilderness training to help with the birth, given the absence of the usual equipment need to help with a premature birth. He and the nurses used shoelaces to tie the umbilical cord and made baby warmers out of bottles that were microwaved.
At one point, they had to use an Apple Watch to monitor the baby’s heart rate because they did not have normal tools available, the news release said.
As soon as the plane landed in Honolulu, medical response teams helped get mother and baby to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.
“I don’t know how a patient gets so lucky as to have three neonatal intensive care nurses onboard the same flight when she is in emergency labor, but that was the situation we were in,” Glenn said. “The great thing about this was the teamwork. Everybody jumped in together and everyone helped out.”