Calgary

Air Canada birth during Pacific flight brings back memories for Alberta doctor

A woman gave birth Monday on a flight from Calgary to Tokyo. Today we hear from a physician about how "frightening" it can be to deliver a baby up in the air.

Dr. Erin Sullivan recalls the 'frightening' time a woman on her flight went into labour

Baby Chloe, who was born on an Air Canada flight from Calgary to Tokyo on Monday, was an unexpected surprise. (Facebook)

A lot of questions surfaced after a Canadian woman gave birth on Monday during a flight from Calgary to Tokyo, including what is it like to deliver a baby up in the air?

Dr. Erin Sullivan knows all too well.

"[It] was pretty frightening, considering I had never delivered a baby on my own before, even though I was going through residency," she said.

The Alberta physician brought a baby on board in 2013 when she was a passenger on a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Calgary.

Sullivan was a ​second-year family medicine resident when she volunteered her expertise to the flight crew. 

I was frantically going through all the medical equipment that the flight attendants could bring me, and everything was written in Dutch.- Dr. Erin Sullivan

After clearing out business class to give the labouring mother some privacy, Sullivan said the panic set in.

"I was frantically going through all the medical equipment that the flight attendants could bring me, and everything was written in Dutch."

"Birth is often a totally safe, fine happy event. But it can also go pretty wrong, pretty fast," she said.

Dr. Erin Sullivan with the first baby she ever helped deliver as a medical student. (Facebook)

Using a pair of scissors, a couple pieces of gauze, one surgical suture and a "potato chip clip" to clamp the umbilical cord, Sullivan delivered a healthy baby boy.

"It looked a bit ghetto when we got to the hospital later, but I mean it got the job done."

Sullivan says she has flashbacks of the experience everytime she gets on a plane, and she now always brings an extra pair of pants in her carry-on.

"Because the last time I didn't, I was covered in amniotic fluid when I got off the plane."

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