You never know what will happen on flights these days, but thankfully a doctor was onboard a recent international Air France flight when a woman went into labor.
Dr. Sij Hemal, a second-year urology resident at Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, was making his way back to Cleveland from New Delhi, India when the incident occurred on one of his connecting flights. He jumped into action when Toyin Ogundipe went into labor as the plane flew over Greenland and a flight attendant asked if there were any doctors on board.
“She was complaining of back pain. At first, I thought it might be kidney stones, but after she told me she was pregnant, I knew she was going into labor,” Hemal said.
It soon became clear that an emergency landing was not an option as Ogundipe’s contractions rapidly began accelerating. The flight crew moved her to first class and began doing their best to prep for the baby.
“I was relaxed because I knew I was in safe hands. 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,” Ogundipe told the Cleveland Clinic.
Just a half-hour later, she gave birth to a boy, Jake. Upon landing, they were rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center which was just four miles away. With both mother and son completely healthy, they were released later that day.
Hemal made his connecting flight due to some extra help from airport officials and was thanked by Air France with a bottle of Champagne and a travel voucher.
“Honestly, it was something from God. A lot of things could have gone wrong. But we made the best with what we had,” Hemal said.