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Expecting the Unexpected: Three Nurses Help Deliver a Baby on an Airplane

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Three nurses from Kansas City, Missouri were Hawaii-bound for a much-needed girls’ trip when they found themselves delivering a baby on an airplane flying 30,000 miles above the Pacific Ocean. Their vacation got off to a bumpy start, but thankfully, they found themselves in the right place at the right time. It’s just another reminder that nurses never stop being nurses – even when they’re not at work.

From Take-Off to Labor

One of the passengers, Emily Shoell, a mother of six, first noticed a woman that looked pregnant minutes before the plane took off from Salt Lake City, UT for Hawaii.

“I just had a thought, ‘I wonder if she’s pregnant,’ you know because she was kind of holding her stomach a little bit,” Shoell remembers thinking.

The woman in question, Lavinia Mounga, had no idea she was pregnant – or that she was about to give birth thousands of miles in the air.

After the plane had taken off, the passengers could hear someone screaming for help throughout the cabin.

“Hey, get over here! Like, get over here now. Like come over here. Get over here,” Julia Hansen and Siearra Rowlan, both passengers on the flight, remembered saying.

That’s when the three nurses from Kansas City sprang into action. Lani Bamfield, Amanda Beeding, and Mimi Ho rushed over to find Lavinia Mounga holding her newborn, Raymond, born at just 27 weeks old.

Bamfield, who works as a NICU nurse at North Kansas City Hospital, said, “So, I’m yelling, ‘Mimi, there’s a baby and its little.’”

The three nurses then proceeded to make an oxygen tank out of whatever they could find, including a shoestring to tie the cord. They found a nasal suction device from one of the passengers onboard. They kept the infant skin to skin with the mother to keep him warm. They also used an Apple Watch to monitor the baby’s heartbeat. 

They then had to monitor Lavinia and her new baby for three hours until the plane could land in Hawaii.

The encounter resulted in a now viral video that shows the nurses jumping into action.

“To those wondering how she was able to fly in her third trimester, I sat next to her dad on the plane, and he said they didn’t even know she was pregnant,” Hansen added.

After a successful delivery, the attendants made an announcement to the rest of the cabin. All the passengers clapped and cheered.

“We delivered a 26-27 weeker in the airplane bathroom, in the middle of the ocean, with three NICU nurses, a physician’s assistant, and a family medicine doctor, we were able to make it THREE HOURS before we could finally land, but the baby and the mother are doing great. God is definitely above us,” Bamfield later wrote on her Facebook page.

A Teary-Eyed Reunion

During their vacation, all three nurses made a trip to Kapiolani Medical Center to visit Lavinia and little Raymond. Sure enough, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

Mimi Ho, also a NICU nurse at North Kansas City Hospital, said, “As soon as she started tearing up, we did. She called us family, and like, the baby’s aunties, and it was just really sweet to just be able to see her again.”

“It has been very overwhelming,” Mounga said. “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.”

After the delivery, Jai Cunningham, a spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation, followed up by saying the crew followed protocol and alerted them of the situation. ‘It was a medical assist, it wasn’t deemed a medical emergency so that sort of notifies you that mom and baby were in good shape,’ Cunningham said.

Cunningham also notes that these kinds of situations remain rare. ‘It’s not that common for childbirth, obviously, cause most of the time, once women get far along in their pregnancy, doctors kind of advise them against doing such things cause you’re on a plane for five, six, seven hours,” he said.

Mounga’s sister has been giving updates on Lavinia as well. “Lavinia & baby will be staying in Hawaii longer while baby gets healthy enough to fly back home to Utah.”

A spokesperson for Delta Airlines also issued a statement, “Our crews are well trained to manage a number of on-board medical scenarios. Every aircraft is equipped with medical equipment and crews have access to expert counsel during flight when an issue occurs.”

Luckily, the nurses were able to enjoy the rest of their vacation. They also made a lasting connection along the way. Both Lavinia and baby Raymond are doing well, according to the hospital.

Nurses are always going above and beyond for their patients, even when they’re not in the hospital.

Steven Briggs
Steven Briggs is a healthcare writer for Scrubs Magazine, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With both of his parents working in the healthcare industry, Steven writes about the various issues and concerns facing the industry today.

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