University of Missouri-Kansas City dental student delivers baby
November 26, 2019
Kansas City, Mo.
— Aliah Haghighat had just finished prepping her patient’s tooth before a restoration and was about to get the lead doctor to inspect her work, when her patient tells her something shocking.
“Her water broke,” said Ms. Haghighat, a fourth year dental student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “I’ve never seen that before. The nearest thing was probably watching 'Grey’s Anatomy.' Water was everywhere.”
This was Oct. 21, Ms. Haghighat’s first day of a three-week externship rotation at Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center in Kansas City. The patient was her second that day.
The patient must have seen the shock on her and a dental assistant’s face because the patient remained relatively composed, calming them in the process, Ms. Haghighat said.
Ms. Haghighat quickly ran out to get the doctor, who followed her back to the room. Once the doctor realized what was going on, she left to instruct the front desk staff to call for help at a women’s health center located on the floor above.
“Within two minutes after the doctor left, the patient started yelling, ‘I feel the head,’” Ms. Haghighat said. The patient sat back down on the dental chair and undressed.
“She started telling us, ‘Grab the baby, grab the baby!’” Ms. Haghighat said.
And there, she could see, was the baby with a full head of hair. Ms. Haghighat and the assistant put their hands out to take hold of a healthy-looking baby boy.
“I really didn’t have to pull, he just came out,” she said. “He started crying and we placed him in his mom’s arms.”
When the doctor came back with providers from the women’s health center, they took over in caring for the mother and her newborn baby. He was the patient’s fifth child. Ms. Haghighat said she remained in the room to help translate. The patient only spoke Spanish, and she was only one of two people in the clinic that day who was fluent.
Soon, an ambulance came to take the mother and baby to a hospital for care. Ms. Haghighat had already called and left a voicemail for her patient’s husband.
“It’s safe to say this was the craziest experience of my life,” she said, although this wasn’t the first time Ms. Haghighat had to handle a medical emergency. Last year at the UMKC dental clinic, one of her patients suffered a five-minute-long seizure.
That experience, she said, along with lessons learned from one of her courses that prepares dental students for medical emergencies, helped her to remain calm and take immediate action.
One week later, the patient returned to the clinic with the baby to finish the tooth filling. The dental clinic staff reminded the patient to come back to finish her dental visit, as she was being carried off to the ambulance, Ms. Haghighat said.
The following week, the patient was back again for a scheduled cleaning. This time, the staff and Ms. Haghighat were able to hold the baby, whose middle name is Samuel, named after the clinic.
“[The patient] was just really grateful. She always came in with a smile on her face,” Ms. Haghighat said. “That day, I was just in the right place at the right time.”