Sij Hemal, a 27-year-old intern at the Cleveland Clinic in the United States, had no idea how his visit to his best buddy would end. He had a fantastic time in New Delhi and was flying back to New York. Hemal chose to take a nap because the journey was long (the trip was 8 hours). Then his intentions were thwarted by a message on the plane’s speakerphone: «Are there doctors on board?» «Would you please raise your hand?»
A flight attendant approached the young intern after he raised his hand. According to the flight attendant, one of the passengers on the flight fell ill. So, Toyin Ogindipe, 41, of the United Kingdom, who also travelled to New York, complained of acute chest problems and disorientation. He approached the woman and asked to examine her. Toyin was enveloped in a cozy blanket and refused to remove it.
However, the woman was soon forced to reveal the source of her ailment: Toyin was 39 weeks pregnant when she went into labor. And, with the help of a plaid, she concealed a large tummy; after all, Toyin would not have been allowed on board if the flight attendants had noticed him. When the crew of the plane found out what was wrong, they started to think about what to do next.
There were two options: to land at the nearest airport as soon as possible or load a passenger right onto the plane. The flight to the nearest airfield took at least two hours. Hemal recognized the pregnant passenger couldn’t go on much longer, so the young doctor opted to deliver the baby himself. Despite his urology studies, Hemal was regularly present at births during his medical career.
Hemal determined that he was capable of handling the forthcoming duty and urged the crew to continue the journey. Stephanie Ortolan, a pediatrician from Paris, was fortunately on board the plane. Stephanie accepted the position of Hemal’s personal assistant. Toyin was relocated to business class (where there were fewer passengers) and began her pregnancy preparations. When the newly-made mother arrived in New York, she went to the nearest hospital, but she was discharged after only a few hours! And the airline honored Hemal for his bravery with a bottle of champagne.