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Canada Baby Born On Toronto-bound Flight

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Baby born on Toronto-bound flight
CBC News
Posted: Oct 25, 2011 6:28 PM ET


An EMS team arrives to take mother and daughter to hospital. Courtesy Balvinder Singh Ahuja

The passenger cabin of an Air India flight to Toronto turned into a delivery room on the weekend when a baby was born at 11,000 metres.

The mother and child are safe and sound and on the ground now — "so happy," according to the family — but there was great concern at the time.

Luckily, Dr. Balvinder Singh Ahuja from Brampton, Ont., was on the same Delhi to Toronto flight as Kuljeet Kaur, her husband Ranjodh Singh Gill and their seven-year-old daughter.

A pediatrician in India before moving to Canada, the doctor was returning home after a visit to India when he heard a call on the plane's loudspeaker.

"They said, 'There is a patient who requires immediate medical attention, if there's any doctor or nurse on board,'" he said.

"So I went back and saw this lady laying on the floor — and her husband was sitting there — and she was quite in pain and these air hostesses said, 'She's pregnant and she's in labour.'"

He said he's attended hundreds of births, but his real expertise is with children after they've been born. In this case, he wasn't sure how much time he had before the baby would arrive.

He gathered together what he thought he would need. Then he had to improvise.

Scotch was used to sterilize the scissors.

"I needed something to clamp the cord at the maternal site. So for that, one of the air hostesses said she's got a sewing kit. So we took threads from those needles and used those threads to tie the knot," he said.

One final improvisation — "the microwave in the kitchen was used to warm a blanket for the baby."

After about 45 minutes of labour "the baby came out and thank God she cried very well," the doctor said.

The baby girl is named Aakash Leen Kaur. Aakash means 'sky' in Hindi and she weighed in at seven pounds.

After she was born, her mother and little Aakash were given an upgrade to first class and when the plane landed in Toronto about nine hours later, mother and daughter were whisked off to hospital where they are reported to be doing fine.

As for the man who delivered her, he's not a licensed pediatrician in Canada. Like most foreign-trained doctors he needs to be recertified before being allowed to practice in Ontario.

A few days later the doctor is still excited.

"It was an awesome experience and in my 25-year professional career and in my life of 45 years I've never had so much excitement," he said.

One final question remains unresolved — what will the baby's nationality be?

Her parents are Indian, she was born in the skies over Kazakhstan and she was heading to Canada.

That conundrum will be sorted out in the days to come.

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
He was a doctor in India, a trucker here and a hero for delivering a baby midflight

October 27, 2011

Raveena Aulakh - The Star - Toronto


Balvinder Singh Ahuja is training to be a truck driver.
In India he was a doctor and on Saturday delivered a baby on an Air India flight to Toronto.

For 25 years in his native India, Balvinder Singh Ahuja worked as a pediatrician, treating thousands of children, saving many lives.

For the past six months in Toronto, however, Ahuja has been learning to drive a truck, convinced it was too difficult a process to practise as a foreign-trained doctor in Canada.

But his experience as a veteran physician kicked into high gear Saturday when he performed an emergency delivery on an Air India flight from New Delhi to Toronto, turning a passenger cabin into a birthing room within minutes and improvising with makeshift instruments.

The baby, a girl, was born 45 minutes later.

“It was very exciting ... I’m glad I was able to help,” Ahuja said in a phone interview en route to Collingwood in a tractor-trailer. “But I doubt I’ll use my skills again.”

At least, he doesn’t expect to use them here. Like most foreign-trained doctors, Ahuja must be recertified before he can practise.

But with thousands of foreign-trained doctors in the country and few opportunities for residency, Ahuja says he knows it will be almost impossible.

“I don’t want to get frustrated,” he says.

“I’m not closing that door completely but as of now I’m focusing on trucking because I have a family and I need money.”

Ahuja said he immigrated to give his three children a better future.

There are at least 7,500 internationally trained doctors in Ontario but fewer than 200 can get residency spots because they have to compete with young Canadians who are more familiar with the language and the system.

On board the plane, Ahuja had settled into his seat and was almost asleep when a call went out on the loudspeaker asking if there was a doctor or nurse aboard.

He went to the back and saw Kuljit Kaur, about 37 weeks pregnant, on the floor obviously in labour and in pain. Her husband, Ranjodh Gill, was sitting next to her.

The couple and their 7-year-old daughter were flying to Canada as landed immigrants.

There was also an oncologist on board. “She had never attended a delivery,” Ahuja said, quickly realizing it was all up to him.

He had seen hundreds of births and though he hadn’t assisted with any he knew exactly what needed to be done.

Ahuja quickly gathered what he thought he would need. And then improvised.

Empty food cartons were used to lift Kaur’s legs. Scissors were sterilized in Scotch. Pieces of thread tied the umbilical cord. The microwave warmed a blanket for the baby.

The baby was born after 45 minutes of intense labour but no one freaked out, said Ahuja.

“I’ve attended all sorts of emergencies in the past years but this was such a different experience,” he said.

“I was anxious but not scared. There was no alternative, too.”

Aakash Leen Kaur was born about 11,000 metres over Kazakhstan. Aakash means “sky” in Hindi.

Ahuja became an instant hero.

Passengers gave him a standing ovation, the Air India crew gave him a bottle of Scotch and the new father visited him at his home and gave him a box of sweets.

“I was so grateful there was a doctor there,” said Gill, 37, a lawyer who immigrated to Alberta under the provincial nominee program.

But the family wanted to spend some days in Brampton with his wife’s sister before flying to Calgary this weekend.

“My wife was due on Nov. 7,” said Gill. “We don’t know what happened, why the baby came early.”

He said her labour pains started an hour after the plane took off.

“We first thought it was gas but soon realized ... it wasn’t,” said Gill, admitting he panicked a bit until Ahuja, calm and composed, showed up.

His wife, he said, is still tired but she and the baby are doing well.

Ahuja, meanwhile, is reliving his days as a physician through the mid-air delivery. “It was the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in Canada,” said Ahuja, who lives in Brampton with his wife and children.

What’s next?

“Getting my own truck.”

Is the baby girl born in Kazakhstan airspace Canadian or Indian? Or Kazakhstani?

Her father, Ranjodh Gill, says he doesn’t know and doesn’t care.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada will not comment on the baby’s status due to privacy reasons. “The status of the child will depend on the status of the parents,” said spokesman Bill Brown.

But he did present some hypothetical scenarios:

Generally, a child who is not born in Canada and does not have a parent who is a Canadian citizen is not a Canadian citizen either.

If one or both parents are Canadian citizens, they can apply to have a citizenship certificate issued for the child.

If one or both of the parents are permanent residents, they can apply to have the child become a permanent resident.

If the parents are here temporarily, they can apply to have the child gain temporary status as well.

source: http://www.thestar.com/news/article...re-and-a-hero-for-delivering-a-baby-midflight
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