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‘Oh right. I’m on a plane’: Toronto doctor delivers baby on flight

'Oh right. I'm on a plane': Toronto doctor delivers baby on flight
Written by Publishing Team

Dr. Aisha Al-Khatib usually tries to relax while flying.

But last month, as the University of Toronto professor flew from Qatar to Uganda on a Qatar Airways flight, life had other plans.

When the cabin crew called a doctor, Khatib got back on her feet — and found herself starring in a medical drama in mid-air.

“The closer I got…what I saw was a woman lying on the bench with her head toward the corridor and her feet toward the window and there was a child coming out,” she said. as it happens Host Carol Ove.

A crowd of passengers surrounded the mother, whose baby was already halfway.

The mother was “calm and focused”

The fiancé remembers someone giving her gloves before she could focus on the birth in progress.

“While this was happening, someone to my left said, ‘I am a nurse, can I help you? And I said, ‘Yeah, I need the medical kit. As you know, there must be a connecting kit [here]. If not, I need clamps. I need scissors. “If we don’t have clips, I need shoelaces,” she said.

“I [also] Thinking, “I need hot water.” And then like, “Wait, no. I don’t need hot water, but they always ask for it in the movies.”

It was an unexpected surprise for both the fiancé, who had never had a baby on a plane before, and for the mother, who was traveling alone. A migrant worker, who was on her way home from work in Saudi Arabia.

“She was calm. She was focused,” Khatib recalls. “I mean, I think she was shocked, you know, to tell you the truth.”

Watch | A Toronto doctor describes giving birth on an airplane:

Baby born at 35,000 feet

Descending: Dr. Aisha Al-Khatib spoke with CBC News about being unexpectedly called to assist a woman in labor during a Qatar Airways flight. 9:13

According to the doctor, the mother called a flight attendant when she felt severe abdominal pain. The flight attendant asked if she was pregnant – only then did the passenger realize she was in labour.

Qatar Airways told CityNews that its crews are trained to deal with emergencies on board, including the birth of babies. She also said that the airline usually has a limit on the time a pregnant woman can travel, and that the woman aboard Dr. Al-Khatib’s flight was on the limit of this cutoff.

“She didn’t get any prenatal care,” Khatib said. “Even when I got into this situation… I had no history of anything about her. And that’s always a bit of a scary situation, isn’t it?”

Government of Canada travel guidelines state that women with healthy pregnancies can travel up to 36 weeks into their pregnancy, but most airlines restrict travel in late pregnancy or may require written confirmation from a doctor.

As soon as the little girl got out on the seat, another passenger appeared next to the fiancé and identified herself as a pediatrician working with Doctors Without Borders.

The pediatrician evaluated the newborn, as the fiancé drew her attention to the birth of the placenta and ensured the health of the mother.

“I kind of pile the blankets under her…caution I didn’t want her to bleed…so I had to slow down with the placenta,” said the fiancé.

Then I think, ‘Okay, well, I need a plastic bag. Give me a plastic bag. “So these people [other passengers] They would just hand me things as I would invite them, which is great.”

new name

As the mother’s condition stabilized, the pediatrician returned the newborn to Khatib.

“I said, OK, congratulations! It’s a girl!” And at that moment, the whole plane exploded in applause and cheering, and I said, “Okay, I’m on a plane,” Khatib said.

Mother and baby were cleaned and moved to business class seats to give them more space. After that, the baby grabbed her mother and immediately began breastfeeding.

“Fortunately, they were fine,” Khatib said.

Al-Khatib took this photo of the plane where the birth took place. (@AishaKhatib / Twitter)

“The best part is that the mother who named the child after me…the miracle named her Aisha.”

Al-Khatib exchanged numbers with his mother and they have been in touch ever since. Before they parted, the doctor gave a gift to the newborn.

“I had a necklace with my name on it in Arabic, so I gave it my name to her. So she always remembers that a lady named Aisha delivered her in the air, [when] We were flying over the Nile.”

“It’s absolutely amazing.”


Written by Mahik Mazhar. Interview with Aisha Al-Khatib, produced by Katie Gleiff.

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