Christmas surprise: Woman gives birth on Philadelphia subway train

Surprise births in 2013 include no less than five babies born at Walmarts, along with first appearances on crowded trains and at least one on a stalled elevator. Parents named her 'Ella,' after elevator.

Philadelphia transit police Sgt. Daniel Caban holds a baby boy he helped deliver aboard a subway train at the 15th and Market streets station in Philadelphia, Thursday. The mother and newborn were taken to Hahnemann University Hospital, where they were reported in good condition.

There are few better Christmas gifts than a holiday baby. The parents of one bundle of joy were caught off-guard when their baby boy decided to make his first appearance in the world on an subway train in Philadelphia.

By the time two Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority officers arrived at the scene shortly after 6 p.m., the baby was well on his way. So Sgt. Daniel Caban and Officer Darrell James coached the woman through the delivery, unwrapped the umbilical cord from the baby’s neck, and placed the boy in his mothers’ arms.

"I had already opened all my presents," Sargent Caban told WPVI-TV. "I didn't know I had another one waiting for me around 5:53 this afternoon."

In 2013, there were 3.9 million births in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For most families, of course, birth is a private affair. However, newborns have been known to surprise their mothers in some unsuspecting places. When that happens, the whole world takes note.

Perhaps the most common-told story of unexpected birth is birth by the roadside. This happens enough that one Boston-area mother published the book “En Route Baby: What to Do When Baby Arrives Before Help Does” after she gave birth to her second child in the backseat of her car. The book offers tips to help expecting parents prepare for the unexpected. (Hint: Keep lots of blankets on hand.)

In May 2013, a British woman gave birth to a baby girl in the middle of a crowded, rush-hour train. "When we were taken off to go to the ambulance, there were people on the platform who gave us a rapturous round of applause and cheered. Passengers were lining the platform. It was a fantastic reception,” the baby’s father told The Telegraph.

Two months later, another British woman gave birth to a baby girl in a stalled elevator, according to The Independent. The paramedics had arrived shortly after the woman went into labor. Mother, father, and three paramedics were trapped in the elevator for 45 minutes before firefighters managed to open the doors of the lift. By that time, little Ella – short for elevator – has pushed her way into the world.

In 2013, at least five babies were born in and around Walmart stores in the United States, according to Two mothers gave birth in Walmart parking lots, one in the pharmacy, and two others in store bathrooms.

In perhaps the most bizarre public birth in recent years, an Indian woman gave birth in the bathroom of a moving passenger train, The Times of India reported in Oct. 2013. The baby somehow slipped through the toilet down onto the tracks. Passengers helped retrieve the baby from the tracks after alerting the conductor to stop the train. Miraculously, the baby was unharmed.

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Christmas surprise: Woman gives birth on Philadelphia subway train
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today