NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A woman who unexpectedly gave birth on a flight to Hawaii last week had some lucky help from some North Kansas City health care workers.
Lavinia “Lavi” Mounga unexpectedly delivered baby Raymond Mounga on Wednesday, April 28, on board a flight.
Luckily for mom and baby, North Kansas City Hospital NICU Nurses Lani Bamfield, Amanda Beeding and Mimi Ho and Hawai‘i Pacific Health Family Medicine Physician Dr. Dale Glenn were on board the flight to help with the delivery and provide care for the mom and baby until the flight landed in Honolulu.
Upon landing in Honolulu, medical response teams were waiting to help get mom and baby to Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children.
“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. “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.
“We were about halfway through the flight and we heard someone call out for medical help,” Bamfield said. “I went to see what was going on and see her there holding a baby in her hands, and it’s little.”
“That definitely means something to us because we work in the NICU,” Ho added.
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,” says Glenn said. “The great thing about this was the teamwork. Everybody jumped in together and everyone helped out.
Given that airplanes aren’t equipped to provide care for a premature baby, Glenn had to rely on previous wilderness medicine training. 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 added.
The team improvised with what they did have available and worked together to keep baby stable for three hours until the plane landed.
“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 Kapi‘olani,” Glenn said. “As soon as we got him on board the ambulance, we headed straight for Kapi‘olani. 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 Kapi‘olani 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,”Ho said.
“It has been very overwhelming, and I’m just so lucky that there were three NICU nurses and a doctor on the plane to help me, and help stabilize him and make sure he was ok for the duration of the flight,” Mounga said.
Mounga has since been discharged, but baby Raymond will remain in the NICU until he’s ready to go home.
“The experience here has been so good,” Mounga said.
Mounga is a resident of Orem, Utah, who was traveling to Hawai‘i with family on vacation.