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Meet Dr. Sailaja V, the Gynaecologist Who Successfully Delivered a Baby Boy Onboard an IndiGo Flight

Baby born onboard Indigo flight

Baby born onboard Indigo flight

Dr. Sailaja's flight back home from Delhi on Wednesday evening turned into once in a lifetime experience after she successfully conducted the delivery of a pregnant woman on a flight.

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Kushala Satyanarayana

In nearly a decade of her career as a gynaecologist and fetal medicine specialist, Dr Sailaja V who had always performed deliveries in hospital OTs and labour rooms, had a change of location this time. And that too an unimaginable one – on a toilet seat, midair, onboard a flight.

Her flight back home from Delhi on Wednesday evening turned into once in a lifetime experience after she successfully conducted the delivery of a pregnant woman, took care of the newborn and ensured that the mother and baby touched down safely.

Monica, the pregnant woman in her mid-30s, felt pain and complained to the cabin crew of Indigo 6E 122 flight Delhi-Bangalore. This, just within 15 minutes after the takeoff. A plastic surgeon on board Dr Nagaraj attended to her and suspected some indigestion and acidity.

However, as the pain escalated, Monica became nervous and walked towards the restroom. That is when Dr Sailaja noticed that she was bleeding. She immediately alerted the cabin crew and rushed towards the restroom.

While Monica said she was about one and a half months pregnant, Dr Sailaja knew it was more – at least 32 weeks. Monica's water broke mid-flight and Dr Sailaja realised that she had gone into labour.

"I knew she was going to deliver. I sanitised myself, wore the gloves, PPE kit and started the delivery process. Monica was seated on the toilet seat and started pushing. The head had popped out and I pressed her abdomen and within some time, the baby was delivered. A premature born baby boy, weighing about 1.82 kgs," Dr Sailaja recalls, still not over last evening’s unexpected turn of events.

The time was birth was recorded at 6.10 pm, Wednesday. The location pin showed somewhere over Bhopal. Next came the challenge – to handle the newborn and the mother. She sent word to fetch diapers, undergarments, clothes, sanitary napkins, shawls.

"The mother was bleeding and we needed clothes. The passengers came forward and passed it on. We used shawls to wrap the mother and child. Placed bags to make an elevated bed on the three-seater row for the mother," says Dr Sailaja.

Since the baby was premature, he needed extra care. Sailaja tried traditional ways like wrapping the baby and Kangaroo method, to create an incubator-like exterior. Kangaroo care is a method of holding a baby that involves skin-to-skin contact. The baby, with just a diaper on, is placed in an upright position against a mother’s bare chest. This method is often used with premature infants while they are still in the hospital.

Thirty-seven year Dr Sailaja who has been a consultant with Lotus Diagnostic Centre and Cloudnine hospital in Bangalore, says she is lucky to have experienced something like this. "I did what best I could do with what little was available. The crew, fellow doctor Nagaraj and the passengers were of extreme help and support. We used whatever we could lay our hands-on. After cutting the umbilical cord, I used the gauze since no clamps were available. Since there was saline, Monica was given the drips. Thanks to corona, gloves were in abundance and PPE kits were available. It was a great feeling to hold the little fellow in my hands," Sailaja beams happily.

However, this incident has driven home a point, that all aircrafts should be equipped with basic maternity kit. "This is very crucial. The cabin crew should be given some basic training in handling such emergencies. Who knows what can come out in the midair," Dr Sailaja signs off, looking into her phone flooded with congratulatory messages and calls.

The world woke up to the mid-air delivery story on Thursday, as announced by IndiGo management and quite oblivious to all this was Dr Sailaja. Back home and tired, she had only told a few friends that the baby was born in her hands. So what would the baby’s birth certificate say? Location: mid-air!


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