Cristina Penton was 36 weeks pregnant when she boarded Spirit Airlines flight 971 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Dallas. Little did she know she’d be stepping off the flight with one more passenger in tow. Penton, her two children and the passengers and crew of Spirit flight 971 welcomed baby Christoph Lezcano into the world Saturday evening after a surprise delivery mid-flight.
"Everything started happening very quickly," said Penton. "I didn't think I was having the baby because it was too soon, but after a few minutes I knew I needed medical attention. The flight attendants contacted doctors on the ground and they advised the flight attendants to see if there were any medical personnel on board. As it turned out there was a pediatrician and a nurse. Soon after that, it was clear I was having my baby, and I was in pure panic."
The flight was diverted to New Orleans Louis Armstrong Airport (MSY), and emergency medical crews were summoned to meet the plane upon arrival. However, before the plane could land, baby Christoph Lezcano was born on the aircraft. He weighed in at an even 7 pounds and was 19.5 inches tall. Both were taken to Ochsner Medical Center in Kenner, Louisiana. Both mother and baby are fine.
"A baby being born during a flight is very rare," said Spirit spokesman, Paul Berry. "But our flight attendants are trained to handle medical emergencies in flight and they have access to doctors on the ground via inflight communication. In this case we were fortunate to also have a pediatrician on board who brought even more care and comfort to the situation."
Indeed giving birth mid-flight is a rare phenomenon, but not totally unheard of. A baby born earlier this month on a Jet Airways flight from Dammam, in Saudi Arabia, to Kochi was gifted free travel for the rest of his life.