Lavinia “Lavi” Mounga was on a flight from Missouri to Hawaii when she went into labor. Less than ideal, obviously, but it came as a special shock for Mounga because she had no idea she was 29 weeks pregnant. Fortunately for Mounga, this particular flight seemed divinely stocked for the situation. A physician and three neonatal intensive care unit nurses happened to be on the flight, and sprang into action as soon as flight attendants started looking for help.
Mounga had gone to the bathroom, thinking she was experiencing a bad case of stomach cramps, and instead delivered her premature son, who she later named Raymond. The Washington Post reports that she had the presence of mind to catch her baby and passed out shortly thereafter. Premature babies present a host of challenges for health-care workers, all compounded when you’re several miles about the Pacific Ocean, but Mounga’s impromptu delivery team was up to the challenge, cobbling a skyhigh NICU together with whatever tools were on hand, including a makeshift incubator made out of hot water bottles and blankets.
A viral Tiktok captured a lot of the action.
It’s the ‘baby being born while we’re above the Pacific Ocean’ for me
They used an Apple Watch as a heart rate monitor. They cut the umbilical cord with a pair of shoestrings. A sock served as a beanie for Raymond’s head and a little oxygen mask was made out of first aid tape.
It was touch and go for the first hour after Raymond’s delivery, and Mounga’s team was worried about how quiet he was. But he warmed up soon enough, and both he and his mom are doing well at Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children in Hawaii, where they’ll stay for several weeks.
Mounga has been effusive with praise for her mid-flight physician Dale Glenn and her three nurses, Lani Bamfield, Amanda Beeding and Mimi Ho. In fact, she asked them to pick Raymond’s middle name. They chose Kaimana, a Hawaiian name meaning “power of the sea.”