Baby delivered during helicopter flight

By Kristin Edge -
'Guardian angels' on the rescue chopper delivered a premature baby girl while her mother was being flown to hospital. Photo / Supplied
'Guardian angels' on the rescue chopper delivered a premature baby girl while her mother was being flown to hospital. Photo / Supplied

A Whangarei mother flying high in the Northland Electricity rescue helicopter has described two people who delivered her premature girl as her "guardian angels".

Mother of six Natasha Tane, who was 30 weeks' pregnant, said her daughter Rayhn Sapphire Waimirirangi Pumipi was born as the helicopter passed through clouds during the emergency flight from Whangarei to Middlemore Hospital on Thursday.

Flight intensive care paramedic Paul Davis and midwife Denise McCormack were prepared for the birth as they cruised thousands of feet in the air above Whangaparaoa.

"They were so cool, calm and collected and they just saved her," Ms Tane said.

"They wrapped her in a special plastic bag and put her on my stomach and resuscitated her. No one was panicking and then there was a little cry and I knew she was going to be all right."

Meanwhile, the pilots contacted the St John communications centre and made sure crews on the ground at Middlemore Hospital were ready for the new arrival.

"It was really amazing having her in the helicopter and I remember looking out and seeing the clouds. The people who saved her are her guardian angels."

Rayhn, who was due on May 15, was born at 3.23pm and weighed in at 933g.

Ms Tane, 33, said the pregnancy had not been easy but her latest addition was doing well yesterday in the neo-natal intensive-care unit at Middlemore Hospital.

"I'm not sure what to put on her birth certificate for place of birth?

"I thought maybe 'helicopter'," Ms Tane said.

Delivering a baby in flight was a new experience for Mr Davis, but he had helped with the delivery of about 12 children on the ground.

He said excellent planning with the midwife prior to take-off ensured a seamless delivery while en route.

"We had a plan in place and had all the gear laid out in the event the birth happened. It was a great team effort."

Mr Davis said the major challenge of delivering a baby in the air was space constraints. "It's roomy compared to other rescue helicopters. But, normally, in a hospital, the baby would be taken from mum and put on a resuscitation table and a team would work on the baby.

"The key to being in the helicopter is being ahead of the game and having all the gear prepared."

In Auckland, the flight was met by specialists with an incubator.

It is the third in-air delivery for the "rescue helicopter delivery suite".

In June last year, the helicopter was called to Kaitaia to transport a mother in a difficult labour to Whangarei Hospital. But as the chopper flew over Kaikohe, the baby was delivered by St John paramedic Sam Johanson and the midwife.

And in 2003, Tamaho Paora was born aboard the helicopter.

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