The woman who delivered a baby at 30,000 feet on a China Airlines flight from Taipei to Los Angeles was 36 weeks pregnant, it has emerged.
A former flight attendant with China Airlines said she was coming forth with the information because she was infuriated with how her former employer had exploited the incident to create a heartwarming story for the media.
In a post on her Facebook page which has been shared more than 20,000 times since Saturday, Lucienne Chen says the woman in question failed to inform the airline upon purchase of the ticket, as well as ground staff upon check-in at the airport, that she was pregnant.
Under Taiwanese aviation regulations, pregnant women are not allowed to fly without a fit-to-travel certificate from the doctor after 32 weeks.
Before take-off, flight attendants had already noticed that there was a pregnant woman on board, Chen wrote, but she wrote off their concerns by saying that she was “just feeling a little bloated”.
When the woman’s water broke mid-flight and she started going into labor, she was advised by flight attendants to lie down and prepare for delivery. The woman, however, insisted she would deliver later, and kept asking, “Are we in US air space yet?”
UCLA physician Dr. Angelica Zen who assisted with the delivery, was trying to catch some sleep after a romantic vacation in Bali when the announcement came asking if there was a doctor or nurse on board.
“They initially told me it was just a lady having some abdominal pain, so I thought it was going to be something simple,” she told The Associated Press. “But when I saw her she was, like, very pregnant.”
Dr. Zen had the woman moved from the first class, where seating arrangements made it impossible to work, to the main cabin on the floor, as other flight attendants pitched in with blankets and towels to shield her from the mobile phones that were capturing the once-in-a-lifetime event.
After the successful delivery of the infant, the plane was diverted to Anchorage, Alaska so mother and child could receive immediate medical attention.
”Not only did you take the lives of both yourself and your child as a joke, you also took the schedules of a plane-full of people as a joke — all because of your child’s American passport!” Chen continued in her post. “An entire plane had to be diverted, causing scheduling problems for all the other innocent passengers. The crew also had to stay for the night in Alaska. Do you know the true social cost of your actions?”
The woman, surnamed Jian, has since been deported by US immigration authorities. Upon her arrival back in Taiwan, she was ambushed by the media. Covering her face with a jacket, she refused to answer their questions. She has been separated from her newborn child, now under the care of state authorities in Alaska.
She told Taiwanese aviation authorities that her daughter had been given US citizenship by the immigration department. Taiwanese officials did not confirm her claim, saying that they had not heard from their American counterparts.