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Woman gives birth on plane after emergency diversion

May 5, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59An emergency diversion to a Spanish island didn’t happen fast enough for a woman who went into labour on a British Airways flight from Nigeria to London. The woman gave birth prematurely aboard the B777 after it was diverted to the Spanish resort island of Palma de Mallorca.

The plane landed soon enough, however, for medical personnel to board it and help crew with the birth. The 30-year-old mother and her baby (whose gender was not announced) were said at the weekend to be doing well. Crew are trained in dealing with such emergencies.

The Boeing 777 was carrying 296 passengers, one or two of whom may have been doctors or medical personnel.

The mother was reported to be in the 26th week of pregnancy. 250x250

“We wish the mother and her little one all the very best,” a BA spokesperson said.

If the  mother was truly in the 26th week of pregnancy, she was well within the guidelines for flying while pregnant. For uncomplicated single pregnancies, British Airways restricts travel beyond the end of the 36th week, and for “twins, triplets etc” (as the BA website puts it), beyond the end of the 32nd week.

Not long ago, London’s Daily Telegraph claimed that “hundreds of pregnant foreigners are flying to Britain just days before they give birth to receive free care on the National Health Service (NHS)”.

That would seem to be unusual, given the guidelines used by airlines, but the paper said that although airlines typically did not carry women more than 36 weeks pregnant, “the women boarded flights in their home countries with forged doctors’ notes concealing the length of their pregnancies”.

The paper cited a UK government report that found that immigration officials at one airport stopped more than 300 such mothers-to-be over two years.

Most of the women had to be admitted to Britain and allowed to give birth on the NHS regardless, the report found, because their pregnancies were too advanced for them to fly home.

The paper reported that the problem of “maternity tourism” had become so acute that staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, in London, refer to the flow of West African women flying in to give birth as the “Lagos Shuttle”, Lagos being the largest city in Nigeria.

That may have nothing to do with the most recent case.

Written by : Peter Needham

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