"Don't think there was a single soul on board who didn't have goose bumps on him or her at this moment". Two days after a woman passenger delivered a baby boy on board an Indigo flight from New Delhi to Bengaluru, the pilot of the flight has narrated the crew's version of the two-hour long tense drama. The mother and the baby were wheeled down to applause from the Indigo 6E 122 aircraft on Wednesday. The baby was delivered by a senior gynaecologist who was on-board the flight.
Captain Sanjay Mishra, ex-IAF, who was the pilot of the flight revealed that the flight crew considered the idea of making an emergency landing in Hyderabad. "It started with the lead informing me that the lady on seat 1C, is an expectant mother feeling a little restless...and that she had not eaten anything since morning. She was comforted and was given fluids and something to eat. A while later her anxiety and restlessness increased. She also started complaining of stomach pain. As the situation was developing, I asked the lead to page for a doctor," he said. The pilot shared his experience in a group of IAF veterans, which in turn was shared on social media.
The pilot said that by sheer luck, there were two accomplished doctors on-board the flight. "One of them, Dr Nagaraj, is a plastic surgeon who works in King Fahd hospital in Riyadh and the other Dr Sailaja a gynaecologist and an obstetrics surgeon, heading the fetal medicine department in Cloud Nine Hospital. We were near Jaipur, cruising at FL 390," he said.
Captain Sanjay Mishra said that it was when the flight was north of Bhopal, that the flight crew came to know that the pregnant woman was bleeding. "A little later, north of Bhopal, came to know that she has started bleeding followed by the shattering news that she has suffered an abortion. Forward galley and the Lav (lavatory) were swiftly and efficiently converted into a makeshift ward/ labour room taking all precautions by an excellent team of cabin crew who rose to the requirements of the occasion. They were very brilliantly supported by several captains and crew travelling ACM and Dead Head. I was waiting for one final update from the doctors to decide on my next course of action," he said.
He didn't have to wait long. "As I was mulling over this disheartening piece of news, heard and noticed sudden increase in the activity levels in the cabin... screaming.. shouting.. clapping and a faint cry of what sounded like a new born...It was a baby boy!!" he said.
"From a feeling of deep sadness...it turned to a feeling of intense joy...never witnessed fortunes turning so swiftly and so miraculously!! Don't think there was a single soul on board who didn't have goose bumps on him or her at this moment," he added.
Despite the moment of celebration, Capt Sanjay Mishra said that he was still on guard in case he needed to land the flight unexpectedly. "Although the doctors confirmed to me that the mother and child are doing well...things could again worsen any moment!! Nagpur was 500m in TS...Indore had a closure...HYD was the best option to divert in case of any new contingency," he said.
He said that he was hoping to ensure that the mother and the baby landed in Bengaluru. "At the bottom of my heart, I was hoping and praying that the youngster holds on for another hour and a bit...he did well...much better that expected at his ripe old age of 5mins!," he said.
The pilot landed the flight as planned in Bengaluru amid a slew of congratulatory messages. "Post landing Birth on Board form was filled...don't think it has ever been filled in a domestic flight in India ever...and it is most appropriately titled *FFS 007," he said.
The pilot said that the flight crew did not have clarity over how far the woman was into her pregnancy. Sources said that her pregnancy was not over 32 weeks. The baby was delivered by Dr. Sailaja Vallabhaneni, a doctor practising at Cloud Nine Hospital.
"On ground amidst all the frenzy, I could sense a genuine sense of happiness and joy amongst all present, KIAL staff, Aster Clinic staff...in all the gloom surrounding us, people were looking for a reason to celebrate and they got one..!! There were banners, chocolates, gifts...and the brave mother was given a rousing reception!," the pilot added.