Safe landing: Cabin crew pose with the family after an emergency landing in Vietnam. Image Credit: Supplied picture

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.

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.