Baby Raymond Monga was born April 28 on the Delta Airlines flight.
“Just happy he’s here and he’s doing well,” said new mom Lavinia Mounga, of Orem, Utah.
Mounga was traveling to Hawaii with family on vacation when about halfway through the flight, she had a shocking medical emergency. Mounga unexpectedly went into labor.
“I just didn’t know I was pregnant. This guy just came out of nowhere,” she said.
It could’ve been a worse case scenario: a woman giving birth to a baby, who arrived early, on an airplane. But a physician and three nurses trained to care for premature babies were on board that same flight — and they did an amazing job to keep mom and baby safe.
Fortunately, Dr. Dale Glenn who is a Hawai’i Pacific Health Family Medicine Physician and three NICU nurses from North Kansas City Hospital, Lani Bamfield, Amanda Beeding, and Mimi Ho, were on the flight. They assisted baby Raymond’s mom with delivery.
“I went back there first, and she is holding a baby, underneath the toilet almost. And so I’m yelling, ‘Mimi! There’s a baby, and it’s little!’” said NICU Nurse Lani Bamfield.
“That definitely means something to us because we work in the NICU, little baby,” said Mimi Ho, also a NICU nurse.
“Usually they’re pretty clear, you know, ‘Is there a doctor on board?’ This call was not like this. This call was ‘Medical help!’” said Dr. Glenn. “I don’t know how a patient gets so lucky as to have three neonatal intensive care nurses on board the same flight when she is in emergency labor, but that was a situation we were in.”
According to Department of Transportation spokesperson Jai Cunningham, the pilot and crew followed protocol and alerted them of the situation prior to landing.
“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 explained. “Then the crew emergency medical services group met them and were able to transport them to a nearby hospital.”
For three hours until the plane landed, the team did the best they could with the limited equipment they had and worked together to keep the baby stable.
“None of the equipment we have was suitable for a premature baby, and this baby was born at 29 weeks instead of the normal 40 weeks, right? So we made baby warmers out of bottles that were microwaved. We used an Apple Watch to measure the heart rate,” said Dr. Glenn.
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Mounga was overwhelmed but grateful.
“If they weren’t there, I don’t think he would be here, so I’m very blessed,” she said.
“I don’t know if the public really realizes that actually some women just don’t know they’re pregnant, and especially early in the pregnancy where the baby isn’t very large, and a woman has a history of irregular menstrual cycles,” explained Dr. Glenn. “There are some women who just don’t realize they’re carrying something. So when this patient got on the plane, she honestly did not know she was pregnant.”
Once they arrived, mom and baby headed straight to Kapiolani Medical Center with cheers and applause from everyone on the plane. A couple of days later, Dr. Glenn and the nurses had another chance to meet baby Raymond.
“It’s been kind of crazy since that happened,” said Ho. “And as soon as she started tearing up, we did, and she called us family and the baby’s aunties, and it was just really sweet.”
KHON is told the baby will remain in the NICU at Kapiolani until he’s ready to go home.
“Everybody’s so nice, and you know, the Aloha Spirit is definitely felt here,” said Mounga.