KHSC neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse Lindsey Kilgore was planning on getting some shuteye during a seven-hour flight from Thailand to the United Arab Emirates – the first leg of her journey home after an adventure-filled vacation.
But that plan quickly changed when she was awoken by an overhead page asking for help from medical professionals. A woman on the flight was going into labour, so Kilgore and her friend Eunice (a fellow NICU nurse from Ottawa) immediately jumped into action.
“She was having contractions every two minutes, and we were two hours away from landing,” explained Kilgore. “Right away, it was obvious that this was going to happen on the plane. We made a plan, set up a work area with blankets and towels, and got ready.”
Along with a medical resident from Austria who was also aboard the plane, the team helped deliver a baby girl. However, the baby wasn’t crying - a sign that she needed attention, fast. Even though she was a long way from a NICU, Lindsey’s years of skills and training immediately kicked in.
“We dried her off with blankets, trying to get her to cry,” explains Kilgore. “Fortunately, the plane had some medical equipment, so we were able to use suction and provide oxygen. Once she started to cry and we knew she was breathing, we checked her blood sugar which was quite low, helped mom breastfeed, and made some makeshift heat pads to help keep her warm.
These are typical issues we see with deliveries, we just had to make it work on a plane.”
Once mom and baby were stable, there was nothing left to do but wait until the plane landed so the medical team at the Dubai airport could take over. Lindsey and Eunice were gifted a first-class ticket for the remainder of their journey back to Canada, crossing their fingers that they could get some rest this time around.
“I’m still playing it over in my head,” says Kilgore with a smile. “You never think you are going to be in that situation. There was an adrenaline rush, but as soon as we started working together everything came very naturally.”