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Flight labour woman gave birth four minutes after reaching hospital

Published 29/10/2015

Baby Zoe is being cared for at the Rotunda hospital
Baby Zoe is being cared for at the Rotunda hospital

A woman who went into labour on board a flight gave birth to a baby girl four minutes after arriving at hospital.

Zoe Ireland Drake weighed just 850 grams when she was born at 25 weeks on Saturday.

Speaking for the first time, her mother Jenny Drake from Kentucky, USA, said: "She's doing really well.

"She is stable now thankfully. We've called her Zoe Ireland."

The American Airlines flight from Paris to North Carolina had to be diverted to Dublin Airport after Mrs Drake went into premature labour.

"I was terrified," she said.

"My big fear was that, if she was born on the plane she wouldn't make it because she was so young and her lungs were not properly developed.

"I was just trying to keep her in -- which is easier said than done.

"I just kept thinking 'please let me make it to the hospital' because every minute counts without oxygen.

"And we did - four minutes after I got to the hospital, Zoe was born."

Undated family handout photo of Zoe Ireland Drake, who weighed just 850 grams when she was born at 25 weeks after a flight was diverted to Dublin. PA
Undated family handout photo of Zoe Ireland Drake, who weighed just 850 grams when she was born at 25 weeks after a flight was diverted to Dublin. PA

Mrs Drake, an optometrist and her optician husband, Gavin, were returning home to Nashville to see their three-year-old son after enjoying a "babymoon" break in Paris.

The flight had only been in the air for about an hour when her contractions began.

"It was pretty terrible," she said. "My contractions were three minutes apart pretty much from the get go.

"I was trying everything to convince myself that it wasn't labour - that it was just Braxton Hicks - but eventually I had to flag down a flight attendant.

"They asked if there were any medics on board and I think eight lights went on. There were several doctors who helped me, so I was really lucky.

"Originally they were going to turn the flight around and head back to Paris but, then we were told we were going to Dublin.

"We could see on the screen that's where we were heading.

"I felt for my poor husband - at one point they handed him a bag and said you may have to catch her."

An ambulance was waiting to take Mrs Drake to Dublin's Rotunda maternity hospital as soon as the plane touched down.

She said: "It was just really emotional. It was a huge relief to arrive safely."

Baby Zoe is expected to remain in intensive care at the Rotunda hospital for the next few months but is said to be thriving.

"The doctors said she was big for 25 weeks, but she looks tiny to me.

"We are just so grateful to everyone who helped and are thankful she is doing well."

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