When Dr Sailaja Vallabhaneni recalls the eventful Delhi-Bengaluru Indigo flight she was aboard on Wednesday, where she helped a woman deliver a baby, she speaks calmly and matter-of-factly. “There was no point stressing, because when you’re stressed, the mind doesn’t work. I didn’t worry, my goal only to make sure that the mother and the baby were safe. It was a very positive atmosphere overall – the co-passengers all applauded when the baby cried for the first time.”
On board this flight, a woman went into labour prematurely and delivered a baby boy at 7.40 pm. “We just got information that a baby boy was born in our flight en-route 6E 122 Delhi - BLR. Flight landing at 19:40. All operations normal. Mother and child are healthy. Congratulations to all. Kudos to your training Team First Aid,” an official statement from IndiGo had said.
Fifteen minutes after the flight took off at 5.30 pm, Dr Sailaja recounts that there was a call for a doctor, to which Dr Nagaraj, a plastic surgeon from Riyadh who was also on board the flight, responded. However, a few minutes later, the crew revealed that a pregnant woman was having pain and discomfort– that’s when Dr Sailaja, who works as a Consultant, Foetal Medicine, at Cloudnine Hospital at Bengaluru’s Old Airport Road, went and introduced herself as a gynaecologist.
“Since I do not have her medical history etc., I could not tell how many months along she was. But my estimate is that she was 32-34 weeks pregnant,” Dr Sailaja tells TNM. Suddenly, the woman expressed that she wanted to use the restroom. When she got up, Dr Sailaja noticed that her water had broken.
When the gynaecologist saw the woman’s condition in the restroom, Dr Sailaja realised that the woman had gone into labour. “Sure, the ongoing pandemic was a concern, but at that point of time, instinct took over. My priority was the wellbeing of the child. Many times during our internships and PG, we have women who come in who are in labour and need support immediately. We don’t think at that time if she is HIV positive even, or if she has another communicable illness. The instinct to save lives and do what we are supposed to do takes over. That’s what happened here too,” Dr Sailaja says.
The woman safely delivered the baby in the airplane washroom. Dr Sailaja says that the baby was delivered with placenta, which she cut with a pair of scissors sterilised with hand sanitiser. The baby weighed around two kilos, but was healthy, she narrates.
The mother too was doing fine, Dr Sailaja observed. She then proceeded to help her lie down, and placed her head on an elevated level using the co-passenger’s bags. In the crew’s medical kit, they found two injections which could prevent bleeding, and with the help of Dr Nagaraj, these were administered to the woman.
I was just overwhelmed that the baby was fine and healthy and had started breastfeeding,” Dr Sailaja says. While the pilot offered to land the plane in Hyderabad, which would have reduced 40 minutes of travel, Dr Sailaja said that she did not feel the need for the detour as the mother and infant were doing well. She also appreciates the cabin crew’s calmness and cooperation during this incident.
“I have dealt with much more stressful situations… I wouldn’t call this situation as stressful as laden with uncertainty. Ultimately, I was just mighty happy that the baby and the mother were fine,” Dr Sailaja says
Watch: Woman deliveres baby boy on board Indigo flight from Delhi to Bengaluru