Doctor delivers baby on international flight

This definitely wasn't what Dr. Sij Hemal was expecting when he booked a flight with Air France from India to the Uni...

Posted: Jan 19, 2018 9:55 AM
Updated: Jan 19, 2018 9:55 AM

This definitely wasn't what Dr. Sij Hemal was expecting when he booked a flight with Air France from India to the United States.

Hemal was tired. The second-year urology resident at Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute had spent his entire day traveling. He started in New Delhi, stopped in Paris and was now headed to New York, where he would catch a connecting flight to Cleveland -- his final destination.

He needed a nap. The 27-year-old had planned to watch the movie "Side Effects," enjoy a glass of champagne and fall asleep.

But before he could have that drink, everything changed. A flight attendant was looking for any doctors on board. So Hemal got out of his seat and went to offer what help he could.

It was then he discovered that 41-year-old Toyin Ogundipe had gone into labor as the plane skirted the southern coast of Greenland, 35,000 feet below. "She was complaining of back pain," Hemal told CNN. "At first, I thought it might be kidney stones, but after she told me she was pregnant, I knew she was going into labor."

Over the course of an hour, Ogundipe's contractions accelerated.

"Once they got to two minutes apart, that's when we knew we were going to deliver on the plane," Hemal said.

An emergency landing would have required a two-hour diversion to a US military base in the Azores Islands. Instead, the crew moved Ogundipe to first class, which had fewer passengers and more space. They continued to head for JFK International Airport, a full four hours away.

While Hemal practices urology, this wasn't his first delivery. Thanks to his training at Wake Forest School of Medicine, Hemal had delivered seven babies -- just not on the floor of a jet.

"I was relaxed because I knew I was in safe hands," Ogundipe said in a statement. "They did everything a doctor or midwife would have done if I was in the labor room in the hospital. Even better, if you ask me."

After about half an hour, Ogundipe gave birth to a boy named Jake. And Hemal was relieved.

When they finally landed, Ogundipe and Jake were quickly sent off to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, four miles from the airport, and were released later that day.

"Honestly, it was something from God," Hemal said of the mid-December delivery. "A lot of things could have gone wrong. But we made the best with what we had."

Hemal still had one last obstacle in front of him -- getting to his connecting flight on time.

With the help of airport officials, he made it through immigration and arrived at his gate in time. It was an uneventful flight back to Cleveland.

"I'm glad I didn't have anything happen after that," Hemal said.

Air France even made up for that missed glass of champagne -- the airline provided Hemal with a whole bottle -- along with a travel voucher as a thank you for his medical services.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 490011

Reported Deaths: 6618
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1016821593
Ramsey43388811
Dakota36714394
Anoka33545392
Washington22247262
Stearns18847202
St. Louis14915265
Scott13445107
Wright12635116
Olmsted1187890
Sherburne879474
Carver790941
Clay696288
Rice678691
Blue Earth604435
Kandiyohi582274
Crow Wing523682
Chisago502945
Otter Tail487171
Benton451890
Winona419749
Mower411931
Douglas395068
Goodhue390169
Nobles387347
Polk345363
McLeod341950
Beltrami339151
Morrison328147
Itasca315346
Becker315143
Lyon314045
Isanti310056
Steele304311
Carlton300649
Freeborn287124
Pine283616
Nicollet263341
Todd250330
Brown249137
Le Sueur238620
Mille Lacs230047
Cass221424
Waseca211217
Meeker208534
Martin190829
Wabasha18733
Roseau181017
Hubbard161041
Houston158214
Dodge15464
Renville152940
Redwood147127
Fillmore14029
Pennington139816
Chippewa137035
Cottonwood136120
Wadena131520
Faribault125017
Aitkin119233
Sibley118310
Watonwan11838
Rock116314
Kanabec109120
Pipestone101924
Yellow Medicine97817
Murray9548
Jackson94710
Swift87818
Pope8185
Marshall78715
Stevens7478
Lake74318
Clearwater72014
Lac qui Parle68816
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5173
Lincoln5122
Grant4928
Norman4808
Unassigned45368
Mahnomen4437
Kittson41121
Red Lake3615
Traverse3115
Lake of the Woods2231
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 337836

Reported Deaths: 5500
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk52116562
Linn19519317
Scott17180213
Black Hawk14973294
Woodbury13858214
Johnson1317875
Dubuque12452196
Dallas1023593
Pottawattamie9899146
Story965445
Warren515176
Clinton502884
Cerro Gordo501483
Webster495888
Sioux480469
Marshall465473
Des Moines428661
Muscatine426493
Buena Vista413337
Wapello4059110
Jasper388167
Plymouth369178
Lee354653
Marion341772
Jones285355
Henry279837
Bremer270655
Carroll266848
Crawford253435
Boone244830
Benton241554
Washington239247
Mahaska215846
Jackson210339
Dickinson204340
Tama203165
Kossuth198655
Delaware186340
Clay184525
Winneshiek183729
Fayette179535
Page178119
Buchanan178029
Wright174531
Hamilton173942
Cedar172923
Hardin170339
Harrison167870
Clayton160154
Butler159331
Mills148520
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146336
Lyon145741
Allamakee144948
Madison143318
Iowa140723
Hancock138030
Grundy132530
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129711
Cass129751
Jefferson128534
Appanoose123447
Louisa122644
Mitchell120740
Chickasaw119915
Union119331
Sac118818
Shelby117634
Emmet115440
Humboldt113925
Franklin109719
Guthrie109728
Palo Alto101721
Howard99722
Unassigned9790
Montgomery97036
Clarke95220
Keokuk92429
Monroe90028
Ida82132
Adair81630
Pocahontas80919
Davis76623
Monona76527
Greene73110
Lucas72321
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Taylor64112
Decatur5719
Fremont5619
Van Buren53818
Ringgold50720
Audubon4769
Wayne47521
Adams3194
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 51°
Mason City
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 45°
Albert Lea
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 44°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 41°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 50°
Prepare for a warmer but breezier Tuesday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

IOOF Home in Mason City welcoming back visitors

Image

Sara's Monday Evening Forecast

Image

Pandemic impact on mental health

Image

Post Vaccine Freedom

Image

Third Stimulus Payment Eligibility

Image

Warm Weather Is Good News For Outdoor Dining

Image

03-08-2021 for Bri

Image

Minneapolis Prepares For Unrest As Chauvin Trial Starts

Image

Sean's Weather 3/8

Image

Rochester NAACP President calls for accountability

Community Events