Airborne bub: Mum gives birth in helicopter at 1400 feet like it’s no big deal

Baby Torran McDonald

If you thought you’d heard every possible amazing birth story in the book, then think again!

Airborne bub

The story goes a little something like this … British woman Alicia McDonald went into labour earlier than expected while visiting the gorgeous Isles of Scilly. Local facilities were not equipped to handle the delivery of a baby, so Alicia was popped into an ambulance and quickly whisked off to a helicopter, the plan to fly her to a hospital in nearby Treliske.

While there was no midwife on the Isles of Scilly, one was dispatched in the helicopter that was sent to help her and Alicia must have been very happy to see her. For midwife Linda Benson it was all systems go once she literally hit the ground running.

“I got on the helicopter and they briefed me on the way out,” Linda told Channel 5 News. “The lady was waiting in an ambulance, so I went over and tested her and everything was good to travel so we decided to go.”


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“This birth was a little bit different”

Best laid plans are often waylaid when a baby’s involved and Alicia’s wee boy certainly had his own agenda when it came to arrival times. Adventurous baby Torran quite fancied being born in a helicopter way up in the air, in fact. He made his appearance about halfway through their ‘rescue’  flight, somewhere over Penzance, with Alicia and Linda communicating via headsets to talk the contractions and birth through.

“We thought we might make it to Treliske, but we didn’t and halfway through the journey she decided to have her baby. Her waters went and it all increased and she had her baby,” Linda recalls, noting that it was about three minutes between Alicia pointing to her broken water puddle and baby Torran arriving.

“She was clearly in a lot of pain, but she was as calm as. She was amazing. Every birth is amazing, but this birth was a little bit different,” an obviously chuffed Linda told the BBC.

“A safe arrival for baby Torran who arrived mid-flight from the Isles of Scilly this weekend. Mum and dad send their thanks to midwife Linda Benson (left) and the helicopter crew at Newquay,” Royal Cornwall Hospitals later posted proudly on Twitter.

First time for everything

Labouring ladies are often flown off the Scilly islands, local coastguard Andy Batchelor explained, but he’d never handled an airborne birth before.

“We regularly undertake medical evacuations of ladies in labour from the Scilly Isles and other areas, typically ships as well. But this is definitely the first one we’ve had in the air in my time.”

Alicia and husband Sandy McDonald (who are from Inverness) were grateful for all the support they received during their amazing birth.

“Torran is doing fine and we’d like to thank the coastguard, the midwife and the midwifery team at the hospital,” Alicia relayed through the BBC.

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