Delivery at 33,000ft: Passenger saves newborn's life mid-flight

RIA Novosti/Igor Zarembo
A Russian domestic flight took a frightening turn as the cabin crew and a passenger who happened to be a nurse scrambled to deliver a pre-term baby at 33,000 feet. The newborn wasn’t breathing, but the nurse administered CPR, saving the child’s life.

­Some 25 minutes after takeoff from the Ukrainian city Simferopol, the passenger told a flight attendant that her water had broken, and that she was going into labor. The woman was placed in the back of the plane, and the pilot decided to request an emergency landing in Kharkiv.

Luckily for 29-year-old Anastasia Kozlova, already a mother of three, a nurse was on board. Doctors later confirmed that it was her actions that assured a successful delivery.

A nurse by education but a masseuse by profession, Sofia, who had never delivered a child before, was up to the task.

After a swift delivery and landing that took less than 12 minutes, the nurse had noticed that the baby girl was not breathing.

“I knew that in such cases, obstetricians use a special device to pump liquid from the infant’s mouth and nose to free the air passage. Since there was no electric pump on hand, I had to suck the mucus out by mouth," the nurse told RIA Novosti.

But the baby was still quiet.

"When [Sofia] removed all the mucus, she carefully attempted CPR and gently massaged the infant’s chest. The girl then stirred, took a deep breath and cried weakly,” a passenger remembers.

After the landing, the mother and daughter were taken to hospital. Doctors later confirmed that the nurse’s actions were lifesaving.

“The young mother and the newborn were conscious when the plane landed, and were taken to a local perinatal center,” the airport’s press service said in a statement. The mother and the girl, who weighed 1.05 kilograms, were in “satisfactory condition” according to the statement.

Most international airlines allow expectant women to fly in up to 35 weeks of pregnancy, provided they are in good health. 

The birth was the first on an Aeroflot route since a boy was born in September 2005 on a Moscow–Los Angeles flight.