Passengers on board a Delta flight from St. Louis to Honolulu last week got the surprise of a lifetime—but it doesn’t even compare to the one felt by fellow passenger, Lavinia “Lavi” Mounga.

“About halfway through the flight, there was an emergency call, asking if there is a doctor on board,” Hawaii Pacific Health family medicine physician Dr. Dale Glenn said in a news release from the hospital system. “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.”

As it turns out, Mounga, who was headed to a family vacation and unaware she was pregnant, had just given birth to a baby boy prematurely at 29 weeks.

“I just didn’t know I was pregnant, and then (Raymond) just came out of nowhere,” Mounga told Hawaii Pacific Health.

image 5997
Hawaii Pacific Health

As luck would have it, in addition to Dr. Glenn, there were three NICU nurses (Amanda Beeding, Lani Bamfield and Mimi Ho) on board, and all came to assist immediately.

“I went to see what was going on and see her there holding a baby in her hands, and it’s little,” said Bamfield.

With three hours left in the flight, the health professionals went in to action and improvised with the plane’s available equipment, keeping the baby stable until the flight landed. Using wilderness training, Dr. Glenn and the nurses used shoelaces to tie the umbilical cord and made baby warmers out of microwaved bottles. Without any way to monitor the baby’s heart rate, an Apple Watch came to the rescue.

Immediately upon landing in Honolulu, Mounga and baby were sent to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.

“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,” Dr. Glenn said. “The great thing about this was the teamwork. Everybody jumped in together and everyone helped out.”

Two days after the surprise birth, Dr. Glenn and the team of nurses visited with Mounga and Raymond at the hospital. “We all just teared up,” North Kansas City Hospital NICU Nurse Mimi Ho said in the hospital release. “She called us family and said we’re all his aunties, and it was so great to see them.”

Mounga has since been discharged, but baby Raymond will remain in the NICU until he’s ready to go home, according to Hawaii Pacific Health.