HONOLULU (CBS SF) – Little Raymond Mounga didn’t waste much time making his first visit to the Hawaii Islands. It came just hours after his birth.
Raymond’s parents were on their way to a Hawaii vacation last week when his mother, Lavinia “Lavi” Mounga, went into premature labor about halfway through a Delta flight from Utah to Honolulu. The pilot made a frantic overhead announcement for help and, incredibly, Dr. Dale Glenn and NICU Nurses Lani Bamfield, Amanda Beeding and Mimi Ho, who were fortunately on the flight, responded.
In a news release, Hawaii Pacific Health said Glenn was on its staff while Bamfield, Beeding and Ho were taking a vacation from their jobs in the NICU unit at North Kansas City Hospital.
“About halfway through the flight, there was an emergency call, and I’ve experienced this before and usually they’re pretty clear asking if there is a doctor on board,” Glenn said in the news release. “This call was not like this and it was fairly urgent. I let the flight attendant know that I’m a physician and she said we have a woman having a baby, so I hurried over to see what I could do.”
Bamfield, Beeding and Ho, nurses specially trained to care for premature or ill babies needing intensive care, were already on the scene helping mom and baby, who had arrived early at just 29 weeks.
“I went to see what was going on and see her there holding a baby in her hands, and it’s little,” Bamfield said.
For the remainder of the flight, Bamfield, Beeding and Ho worked together with Glenn to take care of mom and baby.
“I don’t know how a patient gets so lucky as to have three neonatal intensive care nurses onboard the same flight when she is in emergency labor, but that was the situation we were in,” Glenn said. “The great thing about this was the teamwork. Everybody jumped in together and everyone helped out.”
Glenn said he relied on his previous wilderness medicine training to create a makeshift NICU unit on the flight. He and the nurses used a couple of shoelaces to tie and cut through the umbilical cord, made baby warmers out of bottles that were microwaved, and used an Apple Watch to measure the baby’s heart rate.
“We didn’t have the usual tools found in a neonatal intensive care unit, so there were a lot of vital signs we couldn’t track,” Glenn said.
The team improvised with what they did have available and worked together to keep baby stable for three hours until the plane landed.
It’s the ‘baby being born while we’re above the Pacific Ocean’ for me
“I was literally counting down the time on my watch, between where we are in the flight to when we can get this child to Kapiolani,” Glenn said. “As soon as we got him on board the ambulance, we headed straight for Kapiolani. And once he arrived there, the emergency room took great care of him, moved him up to the NICU, and baby and mom are both doing great.”
Glenn and the nurses had the opportunity to visit with mom and baby at Kapiolani for an emotional reunion on Friday.
“We all just teared up. She called us family and said we’re all his aunties, and it was so great to see them,” said Ho.