Doctor was worried that lower oxygen pressure could cause respiratory distress for the baby
On the plane on 5 December, the Qatar Airways staff asked if there was a doctor on board.
Dr Aisha Khatib — who was travelling for work and medical training — thought someone on the plane was having a heart attack.
In an interview with the BBC, Dr Khatib was quoted as saying: “I see a crowd of people gathered around the patient.”
Dr Khatib found that a 25-year-old unidentified woman — an immigrant from Saudi Arabia who was flying home — was in labour.
“I saw this woman – she was lying with her head towards the aisle and her feet towards the window and the baby was coming.”
She told CTV News that she was assisted by two other passengers in helping the woman deliver. One was a nurse and the other was a paediatrician from Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
When the baby was delivered, the entire plane came alive and everyone clapped.
Dr Khatib said: “So I was like, ‘Congratulations it’s a girl.’ Then the entire plane started clapping and cheering and I was like ‘Oh right, I’m on a plane and everybody is watching this.’”
She recalled thinking “I need clamps, scissors, and if not clamps I need shoelaces.”
“Luckily, there was a delivery kit in the medical kit so we were able to clamp and cut the umbilical cord,” she told the Global Times.
The baby, that came at 35 weeks and was healthy, was named Miracle Aisha after the doctor.
Dr Khatib said: “The best part of the story is that she decided to name the baby after me.”
The doctor also gave the baby a necklace that she was wearing at the time. It had Aisha written on the locket in Arabic.
She said: “I thought I’d give it to her and she’ll have a little token of the doctor that delivered her 35,000 feet in the air while flying over the Nile.”
Dr Khatib also talked about the complications of such delivery. “When you’re high up in altitude, you have to worry about lower oxygen pressures that can affect potentially baby in respiratory distress.”
She explained: “There’s always risk of post-partum haemorrhage or bleed after the delivery. And if you don’t have blood products or anything to stabilise mom, that’s always a risk and that would be a major emergency.”