Have you ever felt like you were in exactly the right place at exactly the right time? For Dr. Dale Glenn and NICU nurses Lani Bamfield, Amanda Beeding, and Mimi Ho, the answer is a resounding yes!
The medical professionals were all on a flight from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Honolulu, Hawaii, when crew members began asking everyone if there was a doctor present. Dale immediately rushed to the front of the plane to see if he could help!
Dale is a family doctor with Hawaii Pacific Health Family Medicine, who practices at Straub Medical Center in Honolulu. He arrived just in time to help Lavinia “Lavi” Mounga catch her tiny newborn baby as she gave birth unexpectedly. When we say unexpectedly, we mean it! Lavi had no idea she was 29 weeks pregnant when she boarded the flight for a family vacation that day.
The three nurses onboard work together in the neonatal intensive care unit at North Kansas City Hospital in Missouri. When they heard a baby had just been born, they hurried over to help.
“We were about halfway through the flight and we heard someone call out for medical help,” Lani said. “I went to see what was going on and see her there holding a baby in her hands, and it’s little.”
“That definitely means something to us because we work in the NICU,” Mimi added.
The nurses quickly got to work improvising a baby warmer out of microwaved water bottles to keep the preemie comfortable. Meanwhile, Dale relied on his previous wilderness training to MacGyver medical supplies that weren’t available on the airplane.
“We didn’t have the usual tools found in a neonatal intensive care unit, so there were a lot of vital signs we couldn’t track,” the doctor said. He and the nurses used shoelaces to cut the umbilical cord, and Dale monitored the new mom and baby’s heart rate using an Apple Watch.
Together, the medical professionals worked for three hours to keep Lavi and Raymond stable until the plane landed. Dale said he was literally counting the minutes until they could get their patients to a proper hospital. He couldn’t believe how fortunate they were to have not just a doctor present, but also three highly-trained NICU nurses!
“Basically, you need somebody to watch the mom too because we have two patients, not just one. So someone’s got to help cut the cord, someone’s got to help deliver the placenta, we’ve got to check vital signs on mom,” he explained.
Meanwhile we’re trying to resuscitate baby, make sure baby’s breathing, get baby warmed up. That’s a lot of work to do, and we’re all trying to work in a very small, confined space in an airplane, which is pretty challenging. But the teamwork was great.
When the plane touched down in Honolulu, Lavi and Raymond were carefully transported to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.
The rest of the passengers on the flight cheered and clapped as Lavi was wheeled by, and the jubilant moment was captured by a fellow traveler and shared on TikTok.
Both the new mom and her baby are doing well! Lavi has been discharged, but Raymond needs to stay in the NICU a bit longer. Lavi’s sisters set up a GoFundMe to help with the unexpected expenses of having a new baby so far from home.
A few days later, the medical team visited Lavi and Raymond in the hospital for an emotional reunion.
“We all just teared up,” Mimi said. “She called us family and said we’re all his aunties, and it was so great to see them.”
“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,” the grateful mom said.
Lavi definitely picked the right flight to have her baby on! We’re so grateful these capable people were there to help her welcome her beautiful baby into the world.
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