Woman gives birth during flight from Africa to the US

(CNN) — Talk about a momentous arrival in the world – or, in this case, above the world.

Last weekend, a woman went into labor on a flight departing from the West African country of Ghana to the United States.

This midflight labor took place on United Airlines Flight 997, which took off from Kotoka International Airport in Ghana’s capital Accra, and was bound for Washington Dulles International Airport on an 11-hour flight.

They were airborne for about six hours when the woman gave birth, United Airlines told CNN Travel Monday evening.

Fortunately for the mother, a doctor, a nurse and United flight attendant, a former nurse, were on board the Boeing 787-8 plane ready to help.

“Our crew was amazing,” United wrote in a statement to CNN Travel. “They acted quickly, assisting the medical professionals on board and making sure everyone stayed safe during the flight.

“And we were especially excited to see the plane land with an extra, especially beautiful, customer on board.”

Paramedics from the airport met the flight on arrival in the United States on Sunday, January 30 at 5:41 am.

Witness Account: ‘I Just Started Praying’

Tiani Warren from Los Angeles was on United Flight 997. She was returning from a three-week trip to Ghana, where she attended Genesis Shishidzee School in Jamestown, an older neighborhood in Accra, to help the children there.

She told CNN Travel she was in business class and the woman who gave birth was in line behind her, although they were separated by the emergency exits. This meant that the woman giving birth had room to lie down in front of her chair.

“I was sleeping… I thought I was dreaming when I heard moaning. I got out of my chair and saw someone on the floor. A nurse was over her,” Warren said.

It took Warren a minute to fully realize what was going on.

When she did, “I thought, ‘Oh God, I know she’s not about to give birth on this plane. I literally counted her contractions — seven to ten minutes apart. God.”

“Then the doctor started working on her. They brought out an IV to put her in,” Warren said. “She moaned and screamed, but half the people on the plane didn’t know what was going on.”

Adding to the tension: The plane experienced turbulence during parts of the flight, Warren said.

“I just started praying out loud for her when she started pushing. She cried. Before you knew it, the baby came out.”

‘I’m glad the baby is okay’

After a while, “the baby let out a loud cry. … To be so close and personal, Lord Jesus, help us all. I’m glad the baby is okay.”

The birth took place on the floor of the cabin in the space provided by the emergency exits, Warren said. She thinks it all took about two and a half hours. Nearby passengers remained in their seats as the drama unfolded.

The mother cleared up and was back in her seat before landing, Warren said.

Warren said the new mom told her she’s Ghanaian but lives in New York City and that the doctor on the flight who delivered her is also from Ghana.

She summed it up in an Instagram post:

“I literally just saw a woman give birth on the plane. And… I’m stressed, I’m excited. I’m tired. All in one. But the baby is a boy. It’s beautiful. It was a little fuzzy at first , but God is good. This is unreal. … I’m in shock right now. This is crazy.”

CNN Travel was unable to reach the mother to request comment.

Other special deliveries

While relatively uncommon, there have been other cases of people giving birth mid-flight.

In the spring of 2021, a woman gave birth on a flight to Hawaii from Salt Lake City, Utah. To make the story even more remarkable – she said she didn’t even know she was 29 weeks pregnant. Fortunately, there was a doctor and three neonatal intensive care nurses on board that flight.
And in the summer of 2021, a girl was born on a US military evacuation flight from Afghanistan en route to Ramstein Air Base in Germany. She was named Reach after the plane’s call sign.

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