Malaria epidemiologist Leanne Robinson was having coffee with a friend in Papua New Guinea when she felt the unmistakable pangs of labour.

It was June 1 and baby Micah arrived just 45 minutes after Leanne was rushed to Modilon Hospital in Madang, seven weeks premature.

“I knew it was early and we were pretty much unprepared. It had been a normal and uneventful pregnancy up to that point and I was booked on a flight back to Australia in five days’ time to have the baby in Newcastle,” Leanne recalled.

After giving birth in a labour ward consisting of five or six “tables”, concern soon mounted over little baby Micah’s care. Complications from his premature birth, including a suspected sepsis infection, worried the second-time parents.

“After lots of phone calls back and forth between family and colleagues in both Melbourne and Newcastle, we knew we should come back to Australia if we could,” she said.

With quick turnaround from their insurance provider, CareFlight’s Air Ambulance Learjet was soon airborne carrying a Townsville Hospital senior neonatal registrar and neonatal nurse to bring three day old Micah and his mum to the hospital’s neonatal unit.

“Micah had an IV line for fluids and was on antibiotics and the medical team was able to transfer him straight into CareFlight’s portable humidicrib.

The CareFlight jet was really like a neonatal intensive care unit in the sky,” Leanne said.

A doctor herself, Leanne recognises the value of access to world-class medical care.

“We want to sincerely thank the fantastic CareFlight crew and wonderful doctors and nurses in the neonatal unit at Townsville Hospital, all of the dedicated team at Modilon Hospital in Madang and everyone at Ronald McDonald House as well. I can’t thank everyone enough.”