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Oh boy! Baby born in plane toilet named after Emirates airline

Filipina nurses on board assist in mid-air delivery; kept the newborn warm using LED reading lamps attached to passenger seats

  • By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter, XPRESS
  • Published: 21:33 August 29, 2012
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Safe landing: Cabin crew pose with the family after an emergency landing in Vietnam.
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Dubai: An Emirates flight from Dubai to Manila was forced to make an emergency landing in Vietnam after a Filipina delivered a baby in the aircraft toilet, XPRESS has learnt.

Pilots landed the Boeing 777 (EK332) at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat airport after mid-day on August 22 to offload the Filipina mother, identified as ‘Nedz’, and her new-born son, whom the parents planned to name ‘EK’ (the Emirates airline code), for emergency treatment.

The baby was delivered thousands of feet over Indo-China and about two-and-a-half hours before expected touchdown in Manila. EK was born pre-term at 27 weeks.

The incident caused a minor commotion on board. Two Filipina nurses on the flight jumped out of their seats to assist in the mid-air delivery.

Higher calling

“I was sitting beside them,” Karen Caballes-Santos, one of the two nurses, told XPRESS. A licensed nurse in the Philippines, she flew back to Manila unexpectedly after finding a job in Dubai, though not as a nurse.

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That day, she was supposed to fly to Kish Island in Iran for a visa-change run. “My visit visa was running out. But then, I found out that on the day I was supposed to fly to Kish there were just five months left on my passport’s validity. I was super sad because I went home empty-handed. Little did I know there was a ‘higher’ purpose for what happened.”

“When I saw the mother walking toward the toilet, she seemed to be in pain. The father was restless… walking back and forth, nearly in tears, so I offered to help,” she said.

Caballes-Santos said she found the baby inside the toilet turning bluish-brown. “He was in a cyanotic condition due to lack of oxygen.”

The nurses then helped aspirate amniotic fluid from the baby’s mouth, nose and ears. Four flight attendants also attended the mother after the delivery. Oxygen masks were given to the mother and child. “I told the mother, ‘Your baby is alive, don’t worry.’ That’s when they calmed a little.”

The nurses helped clean the baby with cabin blankets and wash the mother. They kept him warm with two LED reading lamps attached to the passenger seats. By the time the aircraft landed in Vietnam, the crew including the pilots happily posed with the baby for a souvenir shot.

The baby’s parents work as hotel staff in Dubai. The 35-year-old mother and her husband had decided to deliver their first-born at home in Manila to save on costs. In Vietnam, neonatal ICU care at Tudu Hospital costs around $800 (Dh2,938) per week and the bill for therapy and medicines cost the parents $700.

XPRESS has learnt the mother was discharged on Friday, but the baby remains in critical care.

There was no immediate comment from the airline.

Comments (36)

  1. Added 15:21 August 30, 2012

    Great job nurses and Emirates staff!

    Kamil, Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia

  2. Added 15:18 August 30, 2012

    That is really wonderful .. and whoever is angry or passed a negative comments, simply take a walk.. when those type of people experience the same situation; they will cry for help .. some people are really selfish!!!

    Jem, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 15:17 August 30, 2012

    Kindly note that as per airlines guidelines and rules. A Passenger is allowed to board the plane within 24-32 weeks of pregnancy. And a doctors certificate is required stating the condition of the mother and the baby with the written consent of the husband. As per EK guidelines they require the above if you have entered the 29th week of pregnancy. My salute to crew and to the Filipino nurse who were on board.Because of their alertness and presence of mind they were able to save the baby and the mother, when it would be normally very chaotics considering you are thousands of feet above ground.

    Jennifer Cortez, Dubai, United States

  4. Added 14:43 August 30, 2012

    Well done Emirates crew and nurses on board, I am sure that her documents were checked and pregnant ladies can travel in airlines. All cabin crew in Emirates airline are well trained for medical cases including child birth, they did help deliver a baby before on flight as well....

    Meri, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 14:30 August 30, 2012

    Peace and blessing to EK.

    edu, thailand, Philippines

  6. Added 14:25 August 30, 2012

    To James, do you have heart to say that Emirates must charge the lady for the extra expenses and waste of passenger's time?

    ali, manama, Bahrain

  7. Added 14:07 August 30, 2012

    Hello, this is just amazing! I was almost 5 months pregnant and the staff treated me so well. Good Job Emirates!

    Hazel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 14:00 August 30, 2012

    James keep your opinion to yourself...We are not responsible for your unhappy life...:)

    andy, dubai, Philippines

  9. Added 13:59 August 30, 2012

    Since the child was born in flight, how do you identify his place (country) of birth?

    ZRK, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 13:47 August 30, 2012

    I suggest Emirates to take care of the hospital bills in Vitenam and also allow EK (new born) free for life tickets on Emirates. This incident has any way given them enough publicity.

    Tayyab Munir, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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