Doctor helps mom deliver baby during Southwest Airline flight

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A doctor, two nurses, flight crew, and helpful passengers who donated blankets, helped a mom deliver a five pound baby boy, 30,000 feet in the air during a Southwest airline flight from Chicago to Salt Lake City. Dr. John Saran of Illinois said he thought he heard the baby was due in January, but obviously the infant had other plans. His mom went into labor in flight, leading to a diversion of the flight to Denver.

After the woman went into labor, the physician and crew took her to the back of the plane to the galley area for privacy. Dr. Saran was on his way to Park City for a ski vacation with his family when the pilot asked if anyone on board was medically trained. The baby born on board weighed about five pounds, and all went smoothly during the delivery.

Dr. Saran found needed medical equipment – he used his shoelaces to tie the umbilical cord after the in-flight delivery. The cord was cut with a pair of children’s scissors.

Southwest flight 411 made an emergency land in Denver to accommodate. The flight originated in Chicago, and was enroute to Salt Lake City. The woman went into labor about 100 miles north of Denver.


Dr. Saran, according to the Sun Times is an internist with a specialty in gerontology at Edward Hospital in Naperville. "Somewhere over Nebraska, I was napping a little bit in my seat in the rear section of the plane," Saran said. Janet Saran woke her husband up saying, "John, you're going to have to help out – there's a lady on the plane in labor."

Improvising with blankets on the floor, Dr. Saran says it only took about fifteen minutes and two to three pushes from mom before the baby was delivered in-flight. He said the last time he delivered a baby was more than thirty years ago, "And that was in medical school." – But never on an airplane.

Afterwards, the pilot announced, "we have a new passenger, a baby boy.” The new mom was with her husband and family on the flight. Mother and baby, followed by family were taken to The Medical Center of Aurora. Spokesperson Beth Hard said "Both mom and baby are doing well."

Captain Gary Jesperson who declared an emergency and diverted the flight to Denver said it was the first time a woman had given birth on one of his flights. Jesperson has been a pilot for 28 years. "That's the best emergency I've ever had," said 1st Officer Seth Koppenhaver. After the baby was born the passengers applauded. Everyone on the flight was helpful, and the crew on the airplane nicknamed the newborn “Peanut.”

The Downers Grove,
Idaho Statesman