Premature baby arrives at hospital in bucket

A stunned mother, who didn't even know she was pregnant, took her premature new born baby to Buller Hospital in a bucket on Friday night.

It is understood the 34-year-old had not realised she was pregnant until she went to the toilet. She arrived at the hospital with the baby and its placenta in a plastic bucket.

Sources told the Westport News the infant owed her life to Buller Hospital doctors and nurses, and to a doctor and paramedic who resuscitated her later on a mercy helicopter flight.

The baby was taken to Buller Hospital about 8.15pm. Nurses and three doctors worked frantically to save her and called the Solid Energy rescue helicopter, which arrived at 8.45pm.

Initially, the chopper planned to fly the infant to Christchurch, but the airport was fogged in, while other choices, Nelson and Dunedin were not available for various reasons.

The helicopter was then to fly to Hokitika where it was to be met by a Life Flight team flown in from Wellington.

The Life Flight team could not fly directly to Westport because its runway lights are not certified yet.

The helicopter left Westport about 1am for the 40-minute flight to Hokitika but south of Greymouth, the baby stopped breathing and had no pulse.

A doctor and paramedic on board resuscitated her and the helicopter diverted to Grey Hospital where she was met by her mother, who had travelled there by ambulance.

The Life Flight team flew to Hokitika and then travelled by road to Grey Hospital eventually returning with the infant to Wellington Hospital about 6am Saturday.

It is understood the baby's condition is satisfactory while the mother remains in Grey Hospital.

The West Coast District Health Board today declined to answer any questions on the case, saying the mother had requested privacy.

- NZPA

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