HONOLULU, Hawaii — A Utah woman unexpectedly gave birth Wednesday during a flight to Hawaii with the help of four medical workers on board.
Lavinia “Lavi” Mounga's newborn, named Raymond, arrived early at just 29 weeks.
A doctor and three nurses jumped into action when the emergency call came about halfway through the Delta flight from Salt Lake City to Honolulu.
“I've experienced this before, and usually they're pretty clear asking if there is a doctor on board,” Dr. Dale Glenn said, according to a press release from Hawai‘i Pacific Health Family Medicine. “This call was not like this, and it was fairly urgent. I let the flight attendant know that I’m a physician, and she said, 'We have a woman having a baby,' so I hurried over to see what I could do.”
Luckily for the expectant mother and child, three nurses who work in the newborn intensive care unit at North Kansas City Hospital were also on board. They helped with the delivery and cared for the mom and newborn afterward.
“I went to see what was going on and [I saw] her there holding a baby in her hands, and it’s little," Lani Bamfield said.
“That definitely means something to us because we work in the NICU,” Mimi Ho added.
Glenn said he had to rely on his wilderness medicine training because planes are not equipped to provide care for a premature baby. He and the nurses used shoelaces to tie and cut the umbilical cord. Then, they made baby warmers out of microwaved bottles and used an Apple Watch to measure Raymond's heart rate.
“I don't know how a patient gets so lucky as to have three neonatal intensive care nurses onboard the same flight when she is in emergency labor, but that was the situation we were in,” Glenn said. “The great thing about this was the teamwork. Everybody jumped in together and everyone helped out.
The team kept the baby stable for three hours until the plane landed. Medical response teams were waiting at the airport to take Mounga and her baby boy to Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children.
“As soon as we got him on board the ambulance, we headed straight for Kapi‘olani. And once he arrived there, the emergency room took great care of him, moved him up to the NICU, and baby and mom are both doing great," Glenn said.
Glenn, Bamfield, Ho, and Amanda Beeding got to visit the pair in the hospital two days later.
“We all just teared up. She called us family and said we’re all his aunties, and it was so great to see them,” Ho said.
“It has been very overwhelming, and I’m just so lucky that there were three NICU nurses and a doctor on the plane to help me, and help stabilize him and make sure he was OK for the duration of the flight,” Mounga said.
Hawai‘i Pacific says Mounga has been discharged, but the baby will remain in the NICU until he’s OK to go home.
“The experience here has been so good,” said Mounga who was going on vacation with her family. “Everybody’s so nice, and the aloha spirit you feel here is very different from the mainland. It just feels comforting, and everyone's willing to help and always checking in on us.”
She let Dr. Glenn give the baby a middle name. He chose “Kaimana” — Hawaiian for “Power of the Sea." He said his daughter, who was with him on the flight, suggested it.
The newborn's full name is Raymond Kaimana Wade Kobe Lavaka Mounga.
This story was originally published by Spencer Burt and Brian Schnee on Scripps station KSTU in Salt Lake City, Utah.