Baby in Blue Water
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03 June 2010
By Lekha Menon
Indian doctor and his team save premature baby girl who was born on a luxury cruise liner
Baby Cara Paradise Badua Villalobos sure is destiny’s child. In a matter of a few hours of her life on earth, she has been on a rollercoaster ride – on a luxury cruise liner, a motor boat and then on an ambulance. And if she is still smiling and healthy, Cara has an Indian doctor to thank for it.
Dr Prakash Harishchandra, a Mangalore–born senior physician at the Carnival Paradise, a 70,000–ton cruise ship, and his team had several heart–stopping moments before they conducted a rare delivery on May 27 aboard the ship even as it was sailing from Ensenada, Mexico to Long Beach, California in a four–day itinerary.
It was a regular day on the luxury liner for the medical team comprising four nurses and a doctor when they received an emergency call from a guest cabin. What Harishchandra thought would be just another health–related call turned out to be the most adrenaline–pumping incident of his 11–year career. “The grandmother approached us and said her daughter needed attention. Instinctively, I knew something was not right,” the doctor said.
The team headed up to the cabin, only to see a dazed Amber, 30, lying down on the bathroom after delivering a baby girl! The next few minutes were straight out of a movie. Full emergency resources were pressed into action. Amber was lifted up, placed on a stretcher, hurried to the medical centre; her cord was then cut and attempts were made to make the baby cry and complete the procedure.
While the ship rules clearly state a woman can’t be more than 24 weeks pregnant in order to board the cruise ship, the new mom had no clue she was expecting until a week ago! “I also realised that the baby was premature by a few weeks and needed medical attention,” said Harishchandra. “The biggest challenge was that we were not prepared for a delivery on ship. So, if it was a complicated labour, things could have turned really difficult.”
The drama didn’t end there. After the initial stabilisation, they intimated the US coast guard who swung into action and diverted their ship towards the liner. The crew was then met by a coast guard tender boat with an experienced rescue team and paramedics to take the baby and mom to San Diego where an ambulance transported them to a hospital.
Both received full medical attention and were discharged from Kaiser Hospital on June 1. Last heard, mother and daughter both were doing fine.
Back on the cruise, the point of discussion is still baby Cara. Harishchandra is no stranger to emergency situations or delivering babies, but this one has still left him shaking. “She is a true global citizen and I was proud to sign her birth statement.”