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Plane Lands with Extra Passenger

BOSTON -- The stork must have been off-duty. This baby was delivered by plane.

A Ugandan woman who went into labor on a Northwest Airlines international flight to Boston gave birth to a "beautiful" baby girl yesterday morning on a Boeing 757 from Amsterdam.

"It was wonderful," said Dr. Paresh Thakker, a Methuen doctor who helped deliver the 6 1/2-pound baby at about 9 a.m. on board Northwest Flight 59. "Happy New Year for everybody in the family.''

The baby, named Sasha, was born somewhere over the Canadian airspace to a Ugandan citizen, said Massport spokesman Phil Orlandella. The woman was 8 1/2 months pregnant and was traveling with her toddler daughter and a friend, passengers said.

Phil Jones and Susan Macdonald of Danvers were seated ahead of the expectant mother and spotted trouble about halfway through the seven-hour flight. "It grew progressively worse until the point where she was kneeling on the floor,'' Macdonald said.

Jones said the woman was "wailing'' on the floor. A passenger alerted a flight attendent and the captain called for a physician.

Thakker was nodding off when he heard the call. "I found that she was having contractions every two to three minutes,'' Thakker said. A radiation oncologost from Minnesota, Dr. Natarajan Raman, was by his side.

The delivery was quick and took about five minutes, the doctors said. Raman said the baby was born at 9 a.m., about 90 minutes before the plane landed in Boston.

Raman, who hadn't delivered a baby in more than 20 years, said the mother was in an advanced stage of labor. The captain wanted to know if he should make an emergency landing. "We said, 'By the time you land, the baby will be out,' '' Raman said.

Jones and Macdonald held up blankets for privacy as she gave birth.

"We took the baby out,'' said Thakker, who said it was the first time he delivered a baby on a plane. "We cleaned the baby. We took the placenta out.''

The plane erupted into applause when the baby was born.

"She looked perfect. She opened her eyes and she was very happy,'' Raman said. "Even though we didn't have a labor-room delivery set up, everything went perfect.''

"It is always a joy to see a newborn baby, and I was glad I was able to help,'' Raman said. "At the end of it, she thanked me. She seemed a little exhausted.''

Raman said the woman is a permanent U.S. resident. Officials said the baby is technically a Canadian citizen. A Massachusetts General Hospital spokeswoman said the mother and baby were in good condition.

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