First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the… mid-flight from Taiwan to Los Angeles?
A newlywed doctor, Angelica Zen, was flying home from her honeymoon in Bali when a passenger went into premature labor. When the China Airlines flight attendants asked if there was a doctor on board, the UCLA resident physician sprung into action.
The 19-hour flight, which took off from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and was scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles, was interrupted when the pregnant passenger told crew members that her water broke about 6 hours after takeoff, according to the China Post. The mother was eight weeks away from her scheduled due date.
Though the captain had received permission to redirect the flight and land at the nearest airport in Anchorage, Alaska, the baby was born with the assistance of Dr. Zen about 30 minutes prior to landing.
“My training is in internal medicine pediatrics so we do adults and kids but really no pregnant woman at all, so since my training we haven’t done much OBGYN,” Zen told ABC7. “I was a little bit nervous.”
According to ABC7, the doctor, who had never delivered a baby before, speaks Mandarin and was able to communicate the mother throughout the delivery. Though the constrained conditions of the delivery made the process more taxing, Dr Zen said, “I was relieved the baby looked very healthy. And I was very happy for the mom as well.”
Another passenger on the China Airlines flight, Amira Rajput shared photographs and video of the birth online. Her video has over 600,000 views on YouTube. In the video’s caption, Rajput wrote, “…a woman gave birth to a baby girl while up in the air! I saw the whole thing, amazing!! Miracle birth!” adding “She had no husband with her, she was alone but thank God the crew stepped in and there was doctor on board.”
According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “most commercial airlines allow pregnant women to fly up to 36 weeks of gestation” and “occasional air travel during pregnancy is generally safe.”
The mother and daughter were taken to a local hospital where both are said to be in good condition. The airplane was refueled and arrived at its original destination of Los Angeles more than three hours later, but China Airlines reported that most passengers were understanding of the delay.
According to The China Post, the baby’s nationality will depend on the birth certificate that was issued at the Anchorage hospital. It is not clear whether she was born within a 12 mile radius of Alaska, which would grant her U.S. citizenship.