Edward, MDVIP Dr. John Saran on call at 30,000 feet, delivers healthy baby boy. Read The Naperville Sun's story.
Naperville doc delivers baby aboard jet
December 4, 2009
By BILL BIRD
No patients to see. No superiors to pacify. No e-mail or faxes to answer. Just a few days in Utah, decompressing with the wife.
Although there was that little matter of delivering a baby aboard a jetliner streaking through the skies over Colorado at 30,000 feet.
It proved to be all in a day's work for Dr. John Saran, an internist with a specialty in gerontology at Edward Hospital in Naperville. Saran helped a young mother deliver her slightly premature son Friday morning on board a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 bound for Salt Lake City from Chicago's Midway Airport.
"A lot of the passengers were clapping and cheering and happy about it, even though they knew they'd be diverting and missing their connections," Saran told the Naperville Sun Friday night by telephone, as he and his wife, Janet, were arriving in Sundance, Utah.
The Sarans' adventure began shortly after they and 121 other passengers had boarded Southwest Airlines Flight 441 out of Midway.
Southwest Airlines spokesman Paul Flaningan said the flight proved uneventful until about 10:45 a.m. Mountain Standard Time. That was when a passenger, seated alongside her husband, went into labor.
"Somewhere over Nebraska, I was napping a little bit in my seat in the rear section of the plane," Saran said. Janet Saran nudged her husband awake and said, "John, you're going to have to help out - there's a lady on the plane in labor," Saran recalled.
A groggy Saran answered the pilot's call for a doctor. As luck would have it, two nurses were also aboard at the time, along with three specially-trained flight attendants, Flaningan said.
The hastily-assembled birthing team took the woman to the rear of the plane and placed her atop blankets they had spread on the floor. Saran and the nurses took over at that point.
" I kept thinking, maybe we'll make it to the airport," Saran said. "But the baby had other ideas. There was every indication the baby was coming, so then we had to improvise."
The mother delivered "in about 10 or 15 minutes, and with just two or three pushes," Saran said. The newborn's umbilical cord was tied off using the laces of Saran's black street shoes and the pull-cord from a sweatshirt worn by one of the nurses.
Someone then found a pair of children's scissors, which were used to snip the umbilical cord. One of the nurses then wrapped the baby in a blanket and handed him to his mother.
Saran said the infant appeared to have "good color" and "seemed to be doing fine."
He added the pilot announced over the plane's loudspeaker that "we have a new passenger, a baby boy," which drew cheers and applause from his fellow passengers.
The plane made an emergency landing at a Denver airport, and paramedics rushed the woman and newborn to The Medical Center of Aurora. The plane left for Utah a short time later.
Beth Hardy, spokeswoman for The Medical Center of Aurora, confirmed Friday night the mother and child were hospitalized there.
"Both mom and baby are doing well," Hardy said. She declined to comment further, adding family members did not wish to speak to the media.
Flaningan praised Saran, the nurses and the flight crew, as well as the plane's passengers.
Women "were giving up their blankets" as word of the impending birth spread, Flaningan said. "There was just this great camaraderie among all the passengers."
Saran described the new mother as a woman in her twenties or early thirties. He said it was his understanding the baby had not been due until January, and that the couple planned to put the boy up for adoption.
Edward Hospital's Web site indicated Saran is a graduate of Loyola University's Stritch School of Medicine. He has been in practice since 1979 and an Edward Hospital staff member since 1998.
The Sarans live in the Woods of Bailey Hobson neighborhood in east-central Naperville. They have a son, John Saran, 22, and a daughter, Mary Saran, 19.
Saran said the literally sky-high birthing experience was a first for him.
"My last delivery was more than 30 years ago," he said. "And that was in medical school."
Naperville, Illinois (IL) - Edward Hospital and Health Services