A Canadian doctor who was travelling to Uganda for work leapt into action after a woman went into childbirth just one hour into a flight from Doha to Entebbe. Dr Aisha Khatib, Assistant Professor of the Department of Community and Family Medicine at the University of Toronto helped successfully the baby after cabin crew put the call out for help.
The Qatar Airways flight departed on December 7, 2021, but details of the mid-air ‘miracle’ have only now been publicly shared.
“It was about an hour into the flight,” Dr Khatib told Canada’s CTV News Toronto. “They basically asked if there was a doctor or medical personnel on board.” Dr Khatib volunteered her help and was directed to the back of the plane.
She found the pregnant passenger surrounded by a crowd of people and initially thought the medical situation was a heart attack or something equally critical.
But she then noticed the first time mother with her feet up and pointing towards the windows and the baby coming out. The Ugandan domestic worker had been working in Saudi Arabia but was travelling back home to give birth to her child when labour struct five weeks early.
The pregnant passenger was, however, in good hands. Along with Dr Khatib, there was also an oncology nurse and a paediatrician from Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) looking after her onboard the flight.
“Someone threw me a pair of gloves and we had to lean over this woman to get this baby as it was coming out,” Dr Khatib commented.
Her fears that the plane wouldn’t have the right equipment onboard were quickly alleviated when cabin crew presented her with a delivery pack and international airlines stock for just this kind of eventuality.
“I was able to cut the cords, cut the umbilical cord. And check the baby over,” she said. “The baby was crying and had colour and so I gave her a good rubdown and passed her over to the paediatrician,” Dr Khatib continued.
“So I was like, ‘Congratulations it’s a girl.’ Then the entire plane started clapping and cheering and was like ‘Oh right, I’m on a plane and everybody is watching this.'” she later told BBC News.
The new mother decided to name her baby daughter Miracle Aisha. Both are said to be doing well in Uganda.
Dr Khatib is now back in Canada, although her return flight wasn’t without incident. There was another medical emergency although, thankfully, there was a second doctor onboard who volunteered and let Dr Khatib relax.
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.