UMKC Dental Student Delivers Patient’s Baby at Clinic

Patient came for a filling, left with a son
Portrait of Aliah Haghighat with fall trees in the background.

The email subject line to UMKC School of Dentistry faculty read: “There is no limit to what our students can do!”

The email detailed something completely unexpected that happened on fourth-year dental student Aliah Haghighat’s first day of an externship rotation at Samuel Rodgers Health Center in Kansas City.

“It was definitely a day I will never forget,” Haghighat said.

Oct. 21, 2019

It was Monday morning, the first day of her new externship, and Haghighat was eager to treat as many patients as she could. A woman was her second patient of the day, and everything was going great with prepping her tooth. As Haghighat stood up to get the lead doctor to check her work before the filling, the patient exclaimed that her water broke.

Haghighat ran to tell the doctor, and then went straight back to help her patient. She remembers the woman was off the dental chair and was worried about the water everywhere. Haghighat assured her that it was going to be okay, and made efforts to try to call someone to give her a ride to the hospital. At this point, the lead doctor went to the other side of the clinic to get more help. 

“It was definitely a day I will never forget.” -Aliah Haghighat

Soon after, Haghighat remembers the patient saying the baby was coming and then jumping back on the dental chair. The only other people in the room at the time were Haghighat and a dental assistant.

“We were both in shock and in disbelief of what was happening,” Haghighat said.

The woman exclaimed “grab my baby,” and both Haghighat and the assistant reached down to grab hold of the baby boy and handed him carefully to the mother. The baby was crying and had a full head of hair.

About 10 seconds later, the lead doctor came back and saw that the baby was delivered. She immediately called 911, and at this point, many providers from women’s health including a doctor came to help.

Haghighat and the others used equipment to suction the baby’s mouth and covered both mom and baby in personal protective equipment gowns to keep them warm.

“The patient only spoke Spanish...Thankfully, I am fluent in Spanish and was able to speak to her to keep her calm and translate for her as well.” -Aliah Haghighat

Portrait of Aliah Haghighat in her UMKC scrubs.

The paramedics arrived within 10 minutes. The baby opened his eyes to a room full of people trying to help. The paramedics cut the cord and rushed the mom and baby boy to the hospital.

“The patient only spoke Spanish so this entire incident was happening in Spanish,” Haghighat said. “Thankfully, I am fluent in Spanish and was able to speak to her to keep her calm and translate for her as well.”

Haghighat thought back to a UMKC School of Dentistry course she took, Medical Emergencies, that prepares dental students for incidents that could occur in the dental chair. And this isn’t the first time she’s had to put what she learned in that course to work. Last year, Haghighat had a patient who had a 5-minute-long seizure in the UMKC dental clinic.

“Although delivering a child was not a part of the curriculum, I feel that this class and the experience with a patient who had a seizure helped me remain calm,” Haghighat said.

Nearly a week later, Haghighat remains both delighted and amazed at having helped deliver a baby.

“I am overwhelmed with joy that everything went okay, and that both the mom and baby are healthy and happy,” she said.

She called the patient’s husband later that day to make sure everyone was doing well.

“This is an experience I will never forget, and I know now that I will be able to handle any situation while practicing dentistry,” she said.

She has no thoughts, though, of switching her studies from dentistry to obstetrics.

“I am definitely in the right profession.”

Published: Oct 28, 2019

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