NEW DELHI: A woman gave birth to a premature but healthy baby girl midflight while travelling from the United Arab Emirates to the Philippines, forcing the plane to carry out an emergency landing in India. The mother, whose due date was two months away, went into labor on board the Cebu Pacific Air flight Sunday as it flew from Dubai to Manila, her fellow passenger Missy Berberabe Umandal posted on Facebook.
Panicked flight attendants started calling out for medical assistance – discovering two nurses among the passengers – before turning the front of the cabin into a makeshift delivery room. “We only heard one semi-loud screech, and a few seconds later, there were tinier, cute screeches, and it was when we knew the baby was born. Luckily, she only had to push ONCE,” Umandal said in her post, with a picture showing the mother holding her newborn, wrapped in a blanket. The mother’s nationality is not known.
Flight attendants and nurses cleaned the newborn with mineral water and dressed her in baby clothes donated by fellow passengers flying with infants. The pilot conducted an emergency landing in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad so the mother and newborn could receive medical attention before continuing on to Manila. “After initial examination by the medical staff, they were moved to the mother and child care center of a hospital in the city,” a Hyderabad airport security official told AFP, requesting anonymity. “The newborn and mother are fine and under medical supervision.”
The woman, her own mother who was travelling with her, and the baby were given three-day temporary visas, which would most likely be extended until the parent and child were fit to fly, the official said. Cebu Pacific Air, the Philippines’ largest airline, said in a statement to AFP that it was the first time a baby was delivered onboard one of its aircraft, calling the birth a “momentous occasion”. “We’re blessed to have been an instrument in (the) safe delivery,” said lead cabin crewmember Mark Martin.
The airline said it was giving the baby a million points in its lifestyle rewards program, equivalent to about 10,000 one-way flights in the Philippines. “We are happy that both mother and daughter are doing well,” said Cebu Pacific Air president and CEO Lance Gokongwei. – AFP