Meet ‘Chopper’: Baby born 11 weeks early in helicopter during parents’ babymoon

Good News Notes:

She’s already been given the nickname ‘Chopper’ because of the unique way she entered the world.

Kora Lord was born 11 weeks early in a helicopter while her parents were on their ‘babymoon’.

Christchurch couple Krysta and Marcus Lord were in the tiny settlement of Te Anau, Southland, where her parents live, for Christmas and to enjoy a break before their first child was due on March 10.

But Kora had other plans.

‘She was in a big hurry to get here,’ Krysta told the Herald on Sunday.

‘The midwife said not to push but there was no way I couldn’t.’

On Christmas Eve, Krysta had concerns about her pregnancy so she saw a doctor at the Fiordland Medical Practice. She was referred to an obstetrician in Invercargill – a 90-minute drive away.

She was cleared and went back to Te Anau where she enjoyed Christmas Day with family.

But on Boxing Day she started getting cramps. She took Paracetamol, used a warm wheat bag on her stomach and tried to go to sleep from about 10pm.

But the pains started getting stronger.

By 1am the Lords decided to drive to Invercargill’s Southern Hospital to get checked out. But as they were about to leave, Krysta’s waters broke.

Officially in labour with a premature baby, Krysta was in need of urgent care. But they were 150km away from the nearest hospital and, being the middle of the night, the medical centre was closed.

They couple still made their way to the centre with Marcus calling 111 on the way. An ambulance met them there along with a local nurse, Harriette Hamilton, and doctor, Stephen Hoskin.

Hamilton, who has a background in midwifery, told the Herald on Sunday Hoskin called her about 2am. She packed a tiny woollen hat, a plastic bag, two cord clamps and an instrument to cut the cord.

She assessed Krysta in the ambulance and decided she was too far along and a helicopter was needed in an attempt to get her to hospital before the baby was born.

Hamilton joined mother and baby on the Queenstown-based Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter, with St John paramedic Andy Lowes, intensive care paramedic David Chittenden and pilots Andy Clayton and Justin Gloag.

They started heading to Southern Hospital, a 40-minute flight.

Instead Kora Fay Lord was born at 3.01am on December 27 about 20 minutes into the journey at 29 weeks and four days gestation, weighing two pounds, 10 ounces.

Her birth certificate records her place of birth as Hamilton Burn, a tributary of the Aparima River, 52km southeast of Te Anau.

Hamilton said the paramedics were equipped should Kora need resuscitation but she was healthy and was placed on Krysta’s chest for skin-to-skin contact.

‘A woolly hat was placed on the baby’s head and a plastic bag over the body to avoid hypothermia. My hand rested on the baby’s chest to monitor – I thankfully felt the rise and fall of the chest.

‘The pilot had turned the heat on full for us. It was impossible to hear any cry from the baby over the helicopter noise so it was a relief to see this tiny face scrunch up revealing another sign of life.'”

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