When Lavinia Mounga boarded a flight from Salt Lake City to Honolulu last week, she thought she was headed for a relaxing Hawaiian vacation.
Little did she know she was about to become a mom, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
Mounga, who was 29 weeks pregnant, gave birth in the bathroom on board a Delta Airlines flight. Luckily for Mounga and her son, there was plenty of help on the plane.
Three neonatal nurses from a Kansas City hospital and a family practice doctor from Hawaii were on board and jumped into action when the call came for medical help.
“I went back there first, and she is holding a baby, underneath the toilet almost. And so I’m yelling, ‘Mimi! There’s a baby, and it’s little!’” NICU nurse Lani Bamfield told KHON in Honolulu.
The nurses and Dr. Dale Glenn jumped into action, doing what they could with makeshift medical equipment while the plane completed the final three hours of its flight.
“None of the equipment we have was suitable for a premature baby, and this baby was born at 29 weeks instead of the normal 40 weeks, right? So we made baby warmers out of bottles that were microwaved. We used an Apple Watch to measure the heart rate,” said Glenn.
Mounga was grateful so much help was available. “If they weren’t there, I don’t think he would be here, so I’m very blessed,” she said.
The fact that baby Raymond Mounga arrived was a surprise to everybody, including the new mom. “I just didn’t know I was pregnant. This guy just came out of nowhere,” she said.
Glenn said that without the quick actions of the nurses, the baby might not have survived.
“Myself and the nurses’ survival mode kicked in. We had to create an ICU unit within an airline,” Glenn told USA Today.
Amid the commotion of the birth, Mounga passed out, most likely from shock, Glenn said. “We didn’t just have one patient, we had two,” he said.
Upon landing, mom and baby were transported to a Honolulu hospital. Mom was discharged quickly, but Raymond will most likely be in the neonatal unit for a while.
While the medical emergency was taking place, other passengers on the flight remained calm and casual, passenger Julia Hansen said.
Hansen posted a video on TikTok of passengers cheering Mounga and her baby as they left the plane. The viral video has more than 14 million views.
“Everyone just kind of got up, got their carry-on, and left,” Hansen told NBC News of the atmosphere after mom and baby had deplaned.