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Three Filipino nurses help mom deliver preterm baby on flight

Filipino nurses are regarded as the best in the world. They are said to be the most compassionate, hardworking, and caring, so they are highly in demand.

On Tuesday, three Filipino nurses made rounds on social media after they provided extraordinary emergency health assistance, this time, not to a foreigner but to a kababayan, Sherryl Frigillana, a pregnant passenger who gave birth to a preterm baby aboard a plane.

Sheryl A. Pascua, a nurse who has lived in the UK since 2007, shared that she and her husband, Ruel, helped Frigillana deliver the child with assistance from Carlos Abungan, another nurse on board who is also from the UK, and the Kuwait Airways cabin crew, particularly Justine Pinat and Ranil Jeewantha Samaranayake.

“I have never thought that this day would be the most thrilling yet humbling experience in our nursing career (me and my husband),” Sheryl wrote in her Facebook post.

Both women are from La Union. Pascua was a former college Clinical Instructor of Lorma Colleges in San Fernando City while Frigillana is from Aringay town. Wow, a small world!

Sheryl shared that 20 minutes after the departure of their connecting flight from Kuwait bound to the Philippines, the cabin crew called on the intercom to ask if there was a nurse or doctor on the plane for an emergency situation.

“Wala akong hesitation nung nagtawag ng nurse on board. Diretso akong pumunta,” she said when she hurried over to see what help she could do. Little did she know that a pregnant mother was about to give birth.

On August 2, 2022, Filipino nurses Sheryl A. Pascua, her husband, Ruel, and Carlos Abungan, along with Kuwait Airways cabin crew members Justine Pinat and Ranil Jeewantha Samaranayake, assisted Sherryl Frigillana in giving birth aboard a plane. (Photo by Sheryl Pascua)

After conducting an internal examination and assessing that the baby was coming out, Sheryl shouted for help for the other nurses. Responding to her call, her husband and Carlos came and helped the mother deliver. Soon thereafter, a premature baby boy – only six months – was born on top of the skies of Iraq.

“Ang itinuro ko talaga (sa Lorma) ay delivery and newborn care pero noong naging nurse na ako sa UK, nasa Neuro Unit na ako.  In short, medyo ang skills ay matagal na ring hindi na-practice. Pero sa awa ni Lord nagpray ako na bumalik ang aking stock knowledge,” she told the Philippine Information Agency. 

The miracle baby comes out

The entire delivery was unplanned, but the Filipino nurses sprang into action.

"Nung nakalabas ang baby, medyo may kaba kasi walang gamit ang airlines kaya nag-improvise kami,” Sheryl recalled.  

Immediately after the baby was born, they dried him off and wrapped him with a blanket. They also prepared a hot water bag to keep him warm, especially since he is preterm. Luckily, they fed the baby using a clean syringe, thanks to another passenger who had formula milk. Further, Nurse Carlo's considerable ingenuity resulted in making a makeshift face mask for the baby made from a bottle.

Filipina mother Sherryl Frigillana safely delivered her preterm baby boy on board Kuwait Airways on August 2, 2022 with the assistance of three Filipino nurses and cabin crew. (Photo by Sheryl Pascua)

“The mother and the baby, despite being premature, survived all throughout the many hours of journey and landed safely in Manila,” she said.

The baby was named Lance Ezekiel which means ‘God is our strength.’

“Most of all, we give the credit and glory to the One who deserves it all -  our omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and the One who is in control of everything our God. His glory, grace and mercy endure forever. For without Him, we can do nothing,” Sheryl ended.

Indeed, miracles happen everyday. The birth of Baby Lance Ezekiel on top of the clouds is only one of them.  

The story of these three valiant Filipino nurses yet again rekindles pride in the Filipino people. Whether on land, at sea, or even in the sky, Filipino nurses are unquestionably the best anywhere in the world!  (JCR/JPD, PIA La Union)

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Joanne Namnama Dilim

Regional Editor

Region 1

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