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Doctors deliver baby during trans-Atlantic flight

By Ben Hooper

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- An Ohio doctor on a trans-Atlantic flight from Paris to New York ended up helping to deliver a baby over the ocean.

Dr. Sig Hemal, a second-year urology resident at Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, said he was on the flight last month when fellow passenger, Toyin Ogundipe, 41, a banker who splits her time between Britain and Nigeria, went into labor.

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"I was pretty tired from jet lag," Dr. Hemal said in a post on Cleveland Clinic's website. "I thought I'd just have a drink and fall asleep. As it turned out, I'm glad I didn't drink anything."

Hemal and Dr. Susan Shepherd, a French pediatrician who was coincidentally seated next to the doctor, recommended the pilot continue on to New York because an emergency landing at a U.S. military base in the Azores Islands would itself take an extra two hours.

"Her contractions were about 10 minutes apart, so the pediatrician and I began to monitor her vital signs and keep her comfortable," Hemal said.

Hemel and Shepherd ended up delivering the baby when Ogundipe's contractions became close enough for her to begin pushing.

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"I was relaxed because I knew I was in safe hands," Ogundipe told the clinic. "They did everything a doctor or midwife would have done if I was in the labor room in the hospital. Even better, if you ask me."

The newborn, Jake, started nursing before the plane even landed. The mother and baby were taken to a New York hospital and released later in the day.

"So much could have gone wrong, but it didn't. Being on that particular flight, sitting next to a pediatrician ... it's like it was destiny," Hemal said. "Thanks to God, everything worked out."

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