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UCLA Doctor Delivers Baby Mid-Flight, 30,000 Feet In The Air

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A UCLA doctor on an international flight from Bali to Los Angeles delivered a baby 30,000 feet in the air.

Dr. Angelica Zen, a UCLA resident physician, was on her way back from her honeymoon on a China Airlines flight last Thursday when one of the passengers, a Taiwanese woman, went into labor early, according to ABC 7. The mother, who has not been identified, was only 32 weeks pregnant when her water broke six hours into the long 19-hour flight, ABC News reports. A pregnant woman normally gives birth at 40 weeks.

When crew members asked for help, Zen stepped in even though she had never delivered a baby on her own before. "My training is in internal medicine pediatrics so we do adults and kids but really no pregnant women at all, so since my training we haven't done much OBGYN," Zen told ABC 7. "I was a little bit nervous."

Zen said it was difficult to deliver because she had so few supplies, but flight attendants assisted her like nurses. It also helped that Zen was able to speak Mandarin with the mother. Zen said that the baby looked healthy after the delivery.

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Instead of the China Air flight heading to Los Angeles, the pilots diverted it to the nearest airport in Anchorage, Alaska for the mother's safety. However, the mother gave birth 30 minutes before the plane landed, the Huffington Post reports. She was taken to a local hospital before the plane left to its intended course, Los Angeles.

One of the passengers, Amira Rajput, recorded a video of the flight attendants holding the newborn, who was wrapped in a towel. You can hear passengers clapping. One woman in the video said, "This is a once in a lifetime thing." Rajput told ABC News that the mother was "tough as nails," and that she bit down on blankets to stop from screaming.

When the plane arrived in Anchorage, Rajput said a border patrol agent asked to see the mother's passport. "He told me that this is something foreign women do, to try and deliver overseas for citizenship," Rajput said. "This is a political issue. People die to come to this country."

As for the baby's nationality, Civil Aeronautics Administration told the China Postthat it will depend on what the Anchorage hospital issues on the birth certificate since the mother gave birth in U.S airspace.