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Woman Gives Birth During Plane Ride

April 6, 1998

ABOARD CAMEROON AIRLINES FLIGHT 704 (AP) _ At 30,000 feet, one very small and special passenger decided to join Flight 704. His mom saw to it.

About midway into the 90-minute flight from Nigeria to the Ivory Coast, Saidatou Ayoni’s water broke and she quietly went into labor. Somewhere over either Ghana or Benin, she gave birth to a healthy boy.

It was shortly after the plane had leveled off from its climb to about six miles above Earth that a flight attendant came onto the public address system and calmly asked for a doctor.

Fortunately there was on board: Cameroon’s John Yap, a pediatrician, eased Mrs. Ayoni through labor and delivered the yet-unnamed infant.

``It isn’t unusual for a pregnant woman to fly,″ Yap said. ``But she shouldn’t have been on the airplane″ this late in her pregnancy.

Apart a few groans from the mother, the delivery was relatively easy, Yap said. He used several plastic bags and a blanket to craft a delivery area and he cut the umbilical cord with a Swiss Army knife.

Unaware of the commotion toward the rear of the aircraft _ one row ahead of the smoking section _ most of the passengers continued with their meals. When word spread, Mrs. Ayoni and her newborn became the center of attention.

``I wonder what nationality he’s going to be,″ quipped one passenger while the jet soared over West Africa’s southern coastline.

Several passengers wandered to the back of the Boeing 727 jet to visit the infant, wrapped in a Cameroon Airlines blanket.

Tired but smiling, Mrs. Ayoni cradled her baby when the plane touched down in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. This is her fifth child _ the others were born on the ground.

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