Monday, January 17, 2022

‘Miracle in the Sky’: Toronto doctor gives birth to baby girl in mid-flight

A Toronto doctor’s skills were put to the test last month when she was called across Africa to help make deliveries on a flight.

Dr. Ayesha Khatib says she works well under pressure, so when the flight attendant on a Qatar Airways flight asked if there was a doctor on board, she wasted no time volunteering her skills did not do.

The flight departed Qatar on 7 December and was bound for Uganda, where Khatib was traveling for work.

“There was about an hour into the flight,” Khatib told CTV News Toronto on Friday. “They basically asked if there was a doctor or medical personnel on board.”

Khateeb, who works as clinical director of travel medicine at MedCan and an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, was directed to the back of the plane, where a woman appeared to be in labor.

“I saw this woman – she was lying down with her head towards the aisle and her feet towards the window and the baby was coming,” she said.

Khateeb says that her training started and she immediately started helping the woman.

“Someone threw me a pair of gloves and we had to lean on this woman to get to this baby because it was coming out,” she said.

Khatib says that he had to force himself into the window and the small space between the woman’s legs to reach the delivery.

“I was right in front of the window and mom was nagging me a lot as I was trying to get enough blankets to reduce the chance of a mess,” she said.

“I was just thinking ‘I need clamps. I need scissors. If I don’t have clamps, I’m going to need shovels’ and I’m just trying to figure out what to do if I don’t have the materials. What to do with this situation?”

Fortunately, Khatib said the flight crew was equipped with a delivery kit with the berthing tools it needed.

Two other medical professionals who flew in that day – a nurse and a pediatrician – say Khateeb was able to give birth to the baby girl in a healthy and safe manner.

“I was able to cut the cords, cut the umbilical cord. And check the baby, ”she said. “The baby was crying and had a complexion and so I gave him a good rub and sent him to the pediatrician,” she said.

The successful delivery was met with thunderous applause from the passengers who witnessed it.

“Mom seemed fine — she looked stable, so I was like, ‘Congratulations. It’s a girl!’ And the whole plane just started clapping,” Khatib said.

“I completely forgot that I was giving birth to a baby boy on a plane.”

Both mother and child were in good enough shape to continue for the rest of the flight. Khateeb said he was moved to first class and monitored for the remaining five hours.

The mother, a Ugandan woman, decided to thank Khatib by naming the baby after the doctor.

“She named her miracle Ayesha,” Khatib said.

Khatib says he has started living with mother and child, who he says are both doing well in Uganda.

As a token of remembering her, Khateeb gave the baby a small gift.

“I was wearing a necklace with my name in Arabic at the time and so I gave it to him,” she said.

“I wanted her to know where she came from—delivered by a woman named Aisha as we flew over the Nile.”

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