Flight attendants onboard a Turkish Airlines flight leapt into action to help a heavily pregnant woman give birth to a healthy baby boy during an 11-hour flight from Istanbul to Chicago on Monday.
Dr Feridun Kubilay, 60, a U.S. permanent resident who had been visiting Turkey where he works part-time in neurosurgery just happened to be on the flight after delaying his return to the United States by a month.
Despite not having delivered a baby in over 40 years, Dr Kubilay was more than happy to help the crew when they called for the assistance of a doctor onboard.
“If I didn’t change my ticket, I don’t know what happens to that lady,” Kubilay said. “Someone or something [larger] arranged for me to be on that airplane,” Dr Kubilay told NOLA.com.
Kubilay says he was initially confused when cabin crew said the woman had gone into labor and asked how they could have let a heavily pregnant woman onboard.
He started assessing her for abdominal pain but her husband confirmed that she was nine months pregnant. It turns out that a long dress was helping to disguise the fact that she was in the later stages of pregnancy and just two weeks from her due date.
The Captain suggested that they might be able to divert the plane to Copenhagen as they were flying over Denmark but by this point, the woman’s waters had already broken and she was in the advanced stages of childbirth.
Kubilay and a team of cabin crew helped to successfully deliver the baby boy who has since been named Mehdi and the flight carried on to Chicago without needing to divert.
That might not necessarily mean that Mehdi is granted U.S. citizenship. There are a number of factors that come into play when deciding what citizenship to grant a baby born onboard an international flight. The mother is originally from Morocco, while the plane was flying over Denmark when she went into labor.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that occasional air travel during pregnancy is generally safe but most airlines restrict air travel in the later stages of pregnancy.
Turkish Airlines says pregnant passengers should have a doctors note clearing them to fly between weeks 28 and 35 of pregnancy. After week 35, Turkish Airlines does not permit pregnant women to fly.
During the Kabul evacuation mission, Turkish Airlines cabin crew helped an Afghan evacuee give birth at 33,000 feet during a flight to London. With no doctors or other medical professionals onboard the flight, it was up to the cabin crew alone to help successfully deliver the baby.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.