No one expected mom-to-be Nicola Delemere to go into labour 15 weeks early on a flight to Crete four months ago. The family is lucky that a stewardess came to the rescue, helping with the delivery and resuscitation of the baby.
Alfie – who later weighed in at just 1lb 1oz – was barely alive and desperately needed specialist hospital care.
The plane was 30,000 ft up in the air and the baby’s only hope of survival was flight supervisor Carol Miller’s basic medical training.
Fortunately the quick-thinking Miss Miller saved the day. She used a drinking straw to clear Alfie’s lungs, before carrying out mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and heart massage for half an hour as the pilot diverted to Gatwick Airport.
After landing, the baby was rushed to hospital but doctors told Mrs Delemere, 31, and husband Dominic, 28, their son probably wouldn’t make it because he had been without oxygen for so long on the flight.
When things began to improve after a few days doctors still feared Alfie would be brain-damaged and after four weeks in hospital his life was threatened when he caught E.coli.
The First Choice flight from Manchester to Heraklion in Crete on 17 April began like uneventfully, but by the time the plane was over Germany Mrs Delemere’s waters had broken and she was soon giving birth.
“The pilot diverted the plane after my waters broke and I gave birth to Alfie over Dusseldorf,” she said.
“All the staff on board were shocked but they were brilliant.”
She described air hostess Carol Miller as ‘Alfie’s angel’ after she took control of the delivery and immediate post-natal care.
Miss Miller said: “I’m delighted to learn Alfie is going home after surviving against all odds.
“He was born very quickly and at first we weren’t sure he was breathing so I just applied my medical training, cleared his lungs gently using a straw and then carried out mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
“We were also lucky to have the support of a retired nurse and ambulance driver on board until paramedics arrived.”
The baby still requires oxygen, but is at home with his parents.
Like most airlines First Choice Airways allows expectant mothers to fly up to 28 weeks. At 28-34 weeks the company requires prior notification and a medical certificate giving fitness to fly and the stage of pregnancy for the homeward journey.