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Two Ontario nurses help deliver baby during a flight to Dubai

Two registered nurses from Ottawa and Kingston have been an integral part in the delivery of a baby on board a flight heading to Dubai.

The two friends — Eunice Publow from the Ottawa Hospital and Lindsey Kilgore from Kingston Health Centre — were on vacation exploring Thailand and Indonesia while attending beach parties and cooking classes, said the Ottawa Hospital in a release on its website.

Three weeks into the vacation, they decided to take a seven-hour flight to Dubai. In the middle of the flight, “tens of thousands of feet above the Arabian Sea, a fellow passenger went into labour.”

“About five hours into the flight, there was an announcement asking for medical professionals to make themselves known,” Publow said in the release. “I had overheard one of the flight crew members say ‘baby,’ so my ears immediately perked up. I went and got Lindsey, who was napping at the time, and we presented ourselves to the crew.”

Kilgore says they weren’t the only professionals on board the flight.

“There was a resident physician from Austria named Lena who was training in obstetrics, and she came forward, too,” Kilgore said in the release. “The three of us formed a little team to work together.”

Ontario’s two nurses say the flight attendants changed the mother’s seat from the emergency exit and moved her to a seat behind a curtain. That was when the resident physician followed her to deliver the baby.

However, when the baby was born, no crying was heard, creating a need to “improvise,” said Kilgore.

“We attend a lot of deliveries, but normally we have all our equipment and our people, so we really had to improvise. The baby did need a bit of oxygen, but fortunately, there’s no shortage of oxygen masks on a plane! Eventually, she started to cry,” said Kilgore.

Publow adds that they asked the crew to get them blankets to keep the newly born baby warm.

“And when she was an hour old, we used a glucometer to test her blood sugar, which was slightly on the low side,” said Publow, noting that they helped the mother breastfeed.

The two nurses not only helped ensure the baby is doing well, but also were asked by the captain whether there was a need to divert the plane. And since the baby was doing okay, they determined there was no need to divert.

“For me, this experience really re-iterated the role of a nurse — it highlighted that this is more than just a job,” said Kilgore.

“This is something that spills over into everyday life and not something you can get away from. Being willing to help is definitely a part of who you are. And even though it was a stressful situation, it really showed how a group of strangers can really come together to work as a team and create a good outcome for someone in need.”

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