“Helped me give birth” is not one of the feedback options available after a passenger finishes a ride in an Uber – but perhaps it should be.
Uber driver Krunal Shukla, originally from Gujarat, India, had a surprise extra passenger when he picked up a heavily pregnant woman, her father and younger sister from a home in east London with their destination set as St Thomas’ Hospital.
After just a few minutes in the car, Ada Luguterah realised her baby was not going to wait.
“We thought we had time but a few minutes later it was contractions and the baby was coming straight away,” Mrs Luguterah told Sky News.
The baby’s mother explained: “[The driver] had to call the ambulance and my sister had to catch the baby in the back seat of the Uber!”
Laughing, she added: “At the time same time, we were worrying about the fact that we were going to mess the car up.”
Mr Shukla took control of the situation, pulling over in Amersham Road, New Cross, at around 1.30am on Friday morning and calling for an ambulance.
In the few minutes the ambulance took to get there, Mr Shukla’s fourth passenger had already arrived.
Praising the Uber driver, Mrs Luguterah said he was “so supportive” and “really good”, adding that “he made the whole thing so much easier”.
Mr Shukla told Sky News if he knew she was so close to giving birth he would have ensured she had taken an ambulance rather than his taxi.
“I thought it was just for a routine check-up,” he said, but explained that after a few minutes his passenger began to shout “the baby is coming now!”
“I was so shocked,” he said.
Mrs Luguterah, 34, who also has a four-year-old son, said: “That was the last thing I ever thought in my life that was going to happen. Things like that happen in the movies, in One Born Every Minute [a TV show about a maternity hospital], but it doesn’t happen to normal humans like us!”
The baby boy does not have a name yet, but one of Mrs Luguterah’s siblings suggested he be called Uber.
The baby came more than a week early and Mrs Luguterah had not been expecting to give birth that night, saying she had gone to work at the bank as usual, come home and gone to sleep before the baby decided to come early.
She was with her father and younger sister in the car, but wishes her mother had been with them, saying: “Mum would have had experience and known what to do. Dad has never had the privilege to be there with his children [when they were born]… and my sister has never seen a child being born until she had to catch one for the first time.
“It was a good quick lesson for everyone involved, including the poor Uber driver. Oh my gosh, he was the sane one among everyone. He was never thinking about his car at all.”
Mr Shukla helped direct the ambulance to them and followed the instructions down the phone to try to help, including trying to find blankets.
The Uber driver did not have any – but resourcefully remembered he had some brand new cotton clothes in his boot from a £1 shop that he was intending to use to clean his car. He also put the heater on to keep the baby warm when he arrived.
He said: “I was worried for them and then suddenly I can see the baby come!”
Reflecting on the unusual events, Mr Shukla said: “I think there is a message for the whole world. There is a lot of bad but… look at this woman… we must respect our mothers.”
Speaking of his role, he said simply: “It was my duty as a human. She is a brave mum.”
The pair spoke later on Friday, with the mother thanking the driver for his help and promising to get back in touch in a few months time to let him know how the family are getting on.
And, if you’re wondering, Mrs Luguterah gave Mr Shukla a five-star rating on the app – and Uber waived the cleaning fee for the back seat.
An Uber spokesperson said: “We are delighted that Ada and her baby are doing well. Krunal remained calm under pressure throughout the journey.
“Uber is proud to play a small part in helping this new family when they needed a quick, safe and reliable ride the most.”