Pregnant Doctor in Hospital to Give Birth Jumps in to Deliver Fellow Patient's Baby After She Experiences Complications

Dr. Amanda Hess steps in to help, then delivers her own child

A Kentucky doctor who was in her own hospital room preparing to give birth to her second baby heard screaming from the room next door and jumped in to help, delivering that patient’s baby because the on-call doctor was out of the building.

“I just put on another gown to cover up my backside and put on some boots over my shoes, to keep from getting any fluid and all that stuff on me, and went down to her room,” Dr. Amanda Hess told TV station WKYT.

Dr. Hess — an obstetrician/gynecologist hours away from delivering her own child at Frankfort Regional Medical Center in Frankfort, Kentucky — recognized the woman screaming as a patient from her practice who she happened to have seen the week before for a final pre-natal appointment.

Leah Halliday-JohnsonCredit: Leah Halliday-Johnson
Leah Halliday-Johnson

Leah Halliday-Johnson, 38, tells PEOPLE that she was only 1-cm. dilated when she checked into the hospital but an hour later her fourth child was arriving faster than expected and with the umbilical cord loosely wrapped around her neck. The nurses asked her to try not to push because the on-call doctor was still on his way back from his break, she says.

“I was not being quiet about the fact that it was difficult for me not to push,” Halliday-Johnson says, adding that with no time for any pain medication, she let out a scream or two.

Dr. Hess, who had checked into the hospital that same night, had already changed into her patient gown and was preparing to be induced when she heard the commotion. “She overheard the nurses preparing for a woman in active labor who needed to deliver immediately because the baby was in distress — that baby was coming and needed help,” fellow physician Dr. Hala Sabry wrote on Facebook.

Halliday-Johnson said didn’t know until later that Dr. Hess wasn’t on duty at the hospital but actually had been in her own hospital room down the hall.

“I said, OK, it’s great to see you. Can I push now?” Halliday-Johnson said. “She was in complete doctor mode. She just heard somebody needed help.”

Leah Halliday-Johnson and familyCredit: Leah Halliday-Johnson
Leah Halliday-Johnson

Dr. Hess realized there was no time to wait and delivered Halliday-Johnson’s healthy 8-lb. girl at about 8:40 p.m. on July 23 after two quick pushes, says the relieved mom. The new baby joins a sister, 13, and brothers aged 5 and 4.

“I had actually taken a call the day before, so I thought really that I was working up to the last minute. But this was literally ’til the last second,” Dr. Hess told TV station WLEX.

“She’s a really special person,” Halliday-Johnson says. “I’m thankful for her.”

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The on-call doctor arrived shortly after and completed the rest of the procedures while Dr. Hess went back to her own room, Halliday-Johnson says.

Dr. Hess later gave birth to her own baby, a girl she named Ellen Joyce, who joins sister Kate, according to Sabry.

“It’s life-affirming that there are these women out there watching out for other women,” Halliday-Johnson says. “She has made me feel good about life.”

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