doctor delivers baby on plane
A Cleveland Clinic urology resident delivered a baby on an Air France flight from Paris to New York. Cleveland Clinic Newsroom

A Cleveland Clinic urology resident shot to fame after he helped deliver a baby on an Air France flight from Paris to New York.

Narrating the incident in a post on Cleveland Clinic's website on Jan.15, Dr. Sij Hema said he was returning from attending his friend’s wedding in New Delhi last month when flight attendants asked for medical help over the loudspeaker.

Hemal volunteered and was asked to help Toyin Ogundipe, 41, a banker from the U.K., who had gone into labor a week earlier than scheduled.

The plane was over the southern coast of Greenland at the time, four hours from destination John F. Kenendy airport and two hours from a safe emergency landing at a U.S. military base in the Azores Islands. The crew moved Ogundipe to first class, which had fewer passengers and more space.

Hemal, a second year resident at Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, used the flight's medical supplies to monitor Ogundipe's vitals and contractions and told the pilot to continue the journey towards JFK. He was accompanied by another passenger, French pediatrician Dr. Susan Shepherd of Senlis, who happened to be sitting beside him on the flight.

"She was complaining of back pain," Hemal told CNN. "At first, I thought it might be kidney stones, but after she told me she was pregnant, I knew she was going into labor."

“Her contractions were about 10 minutes apart, so the pediatrician and I began to monitor her vital signs and keep her comfortable,” Hemal said. Over the course of an hour, Ogundipe's contractions accelerated.

"Once they got to two minutes apart, that's when we knew we were going to deliver on the plane," Hemal said. She gave birth to a boy after 30 minutes of pushing, and named him Jake.

Hemal removed the placenta and used a surgical clamp and a shoestring to tie off the umbilical cord. He then cut it off with a pair of scissors, the post said.

Hemal added that although he practiced urology, he delivered seven babies when he was in medical school. “We’re trained to stay calm and think clearly in emergency situations,” he said. “I just tried to think ahead to what might go wrong, and come up with a creative solution.”

Ogundipe said she was very composed during the delivery due to the calm manner of both the doctors and the treatment they provided to her and her child.

“I was relaxed because I knew I was in safe hands. They did everything a doctor or midwife would have done if I was in the labor room in the hospital. Even better, if you ask me,” Ogundipe said.

doctor delivers baby on plane 2
Dr. Sij Hemal and French pediatrician, Dr. Susan Shepherd are seen with Toyin Ogyndipe after the delivery of her baby. Cleveland Clinic Newsroom

After arriving at JFK, Ogundipe, her four-year-old daughter Amy and Jake were taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in an ambulance, four miles from the airport. The mother was released later that day, and is recovering in New Jersey.

“So much could have gone wrong, but it didn’t. Being on that particular flight, sitting next to a pediatrician … it’s like it was destiny,” wrote Hemal. “Thanks to God, everything worked out.”