herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Hero medics ‘over the moon’ at Irish Navy’s first birth at sea

LE Niamh, inset, Paul O'Connell
LE Niamh, inset, Paul O'Connell
Army Cpl Conor Kilbride who is working as a medic on the LE Niamh

A DUBLIN army medic who helped deliver a baby on the deck of the LE Niamh last night has said he is “over the moon” that everything went well.

Corporal Conor Kilbride (36), from Swords, cut the cord after baby Destiny was born on the ship which is in the Mediterranean on a mission to rescue desperate migrants attempting to cross to Europe in makeshift boats from Africa.

“It was a hectic time on the deck but everything went well. There were no complications,” he told the Herald this morning.

“I’m over the moon. It took me a long time to calm down and actually get some sleep afterwards,” he added.

“It was only afterwards...  and I was back in the room that I actually had time to think about what we did and it hit home then that we actually helped bring a child into the world.

“She was just lucky where she was,” he added of the young mum, Nigerian woman Grace (23).

The previous day, she was rescued along with more than 250 other migrants.

Conor assisted the ship’s lead medic Corkman Paul O’Connell (38) in delivering the baby.

The LE Niamh’s captain, Commander Ken Minehane, this morning spoke of his pride at the two medics’ work in delivering the first baby born on an Irish Naval Service vessel.

“Once we heard that Grace was going into labour we had full confidence that the two medics would be able to deliver,” he said, adding that mum and baby are “doing well”.

POC.jpg
Paul O'Connell

Paul explained how it all played out.

PAINS

“When the woman was embarked she was complaining of pains, so myself and the other medics on board were just keeping a very close eye on her. She had told us that she was nine months and that she was due any day.”

Paul was eating dinner on board yesterday when Grace went into labour.

He and Conor threw on their personal protection wear and a section of the deck was cordoned off for privacy.

“It all happened so quickly really after that. The baby was out before we knew it.

“I delivered the baby and Cpl Kilbride clamped the umbilical. He proceeded to cut it then while I was holding baby Destiny.”

Not just a first for the Navy, it’s also the first baby that the two medics have delivered.

“You kick into gear and remember things (from training) and, thankfully, it all went fine,” Paul said.

“To have a pregnancy and to deliver a birth in the conditions and environment  that we were in I think is a great achievement,” he added.

There were 370 migrants on board the ship at the time of Destiny’s birth - 256 rescued by LÉ Niamh during a rescue operation on Monday and another 114 transferred from a Médecins Sans Frontiéres vessel deployed in the area yesterday.

She was delivered while the ship was transporting the migrants to Palermo last night at 5:46pm.

“We had seven woman pregnant on board yesterday, all very much in different stages ,”  cmdr Minehane told RTE this monring.

“They were all treated with care and assisted by our medic teams.

“One of the females on board was assessed and it was established that she was close to delivery.

“The baby was delivered yesterday evening,” he added.

Commander Minehane said the mother and daughter would now be processed by the Italian authorities, saying: "The situation yesterday was no different to any other migrant rescue in the area."

Speaking about the challenges facing the 57-strong crew of LÉ Niamh, which has been deployed on July 10 to replace LÉ Eithne's rescue mission, Commander Minehane  said he was impressed with how well they were dealing with the migrant crisis.

“We had a very good hand over from LÉ Eithne's, so the crew here are very well prepared… [but] honestly nothing could have prepared us for the heat on deck.

“When you’re out there dressed in personal protective equipment, which covers you completely, it’s very difficult to handle the heat.

“We’ve got to make sure the crew is always well hydrated and are rotated below constantly.

“But they’re professionals and they’re doing an extremely good job."

His ship replaced the LÉ Eithne and her 69-strong crew, who returned to Ireland after an eight week mission in which it saved almost 3,400 refugees.

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