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Filipina mother Lalaine Edip and her newborn arrival at Clark International Airport Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Filipina expatriate delivered a healthy baby girl on a flight from Dubai to the Philippines on Saturday — thanks to a kabayan (compatriot) nurse, a former airline crew who was on the same flight.

Speaking to Gulf News on Monday, Keizel Cruz confirmed both the mother, Lalaine Edip, and the newborn baby named Sheikah McQueen, were healthy and in a stable condition. The successful delivery happened on Saturday afternoon, three hours before a flight from Dubai was to land at Clark International Airport (CRK) in Philippines. Back in June, the crew of another airline had also helped a returning Filipina deliver a healthy baby boy on a Dubai-Manila flight.

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Keizel Cruz with her daughter who had a liver transplant in India Image Credit: Supplied

Cruz, a former Dubai resident and cabin services attendant, had a connecting flight from New Delhi, India, where she had taken her one-year-old daughter for a liver transplant.

“It was really a propitious flight,” said Cruz, adding: “We (Cruz and her one-year old baby) were not supposed to be on that flight. We came from New Delhi and we decided to take the long route from India to the Philippines via Dubai because there were no direct flights to Manila.”

“We were in India for three months for my baby’s liver transplant. We were supposed to come home last month, but as destiny would have it, we were placed on the Dubai-Clark [flight],” added Cruz, who had returned to the Philippines from Dubai for good back in 2018 to work as a full-time nurse.

How baby Sheikah was safely delivered

Recalling the day, Cruz said she was chatting with some people during the flight. Three hours before the plane was to land, the crew supervisor told her there was a woman who was about to give birth. “Everyone was calm. I knew the crew were trained to deliver babies, but it was also nice to have a medical professional to help in the delivery. So, as a registered nurse and based on my hospital experience, I took the lead and we proceeded with the sterile technique of natural delivery. We successfully delivered Baby Sheikah McQueen two hours before landing, at 1.30pm (Philippines time),” Cruz shared.

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Baby Sheikah McQueen Image Credit: Supplied

But there were tense moments, Cruz added. “After I held the baby, I could not hear her crying. So, I rubbed her back, wiped her nose to clear the airway and gave her another tap on the back, then she cried aloud. The purser (cabin manager) announced that a baby had been successfully delivered 35,000 feet above sea level and everyone onboard burst into a wild cheer,” she added.

Upon landing in Clark, the Bureau of Quarantine at Clark International Airport immediately attended to the mother and her newborn and they were rushed to a hospital for check-up and medical treatment. On Sunday, Cruz was contacted by the mother who sent her a photo, showing a healthy and calm Baby Sheikah in swaddling clothes.

Two miracles

Cruz said the entire delivery process was nothing short of a miracle. She herself experienced a miracle with her own baby’s successful liver transplant in India, she added.

Her one-year old baby girl, Jeorgina, was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, a life-threatening congenital condition that occurs when bile ducts in the liver do not develop normally. Baby Jeorgina had her Kasai procedure (correction of the bile ducts) when she was a month-and-a-half old. But the remedial procedure was not successful and they were told Baby Jeorgina had to undergo an urgent liver transplant.

Cruz, who lives in Antipolo, Rizal, resigned from her work to focus on raising funds for the treatment of her daughter. They needed at least 3 million pesos (Dh230,000) for the entire procedure. Cruz baked banana bread to raise part of the funds for her daughter’s operation.

Sonu Sood sent help

Many Good Samaritans came to their aid. Several non-governmental organisations and foundations pitched in, friends and relatives bought her banana bread and the flight to India was sponsored by Indian actor Sonu Sood, who had chartered a flight for Indian medical students in the Philippines. Cruz and her baby took the same repatriation flight to India.

Cruz and her baby went to India on August 15 and the operation was done at Max Hospital in New Delhi. The organ donor was Justing, the baby’s father himself, and the operation was a success. The only problem was that they were stranded in New Delhi for one month as there were no direct flights to Manila owing to flight restrictions because of COVID-19. The family then decided to take the long route from New Delhi to the Philippines via Dubai. In Dubai, they had a 14-hour layover before taking the eight-hour trip to Clark.

‘Trip was really worth it’

“But the trip was really worth it,” said a gleeful and satisfied Cruz. “We ourselves were recipients of other people’s kindness and it was like taking it forward when I was at the right place at the right time to help a kabayan,” she added. “It was also worth mentioning that both our babies are fighters — my baby Jeorgina and Baby Sheikah are both survivors. Maybe, someday, when they’re grown-ups, their paths will cross again and they can share the story of how they were on the same flight on that auspicious day,” Cruz concluded.