Producer Gets Top Role as Unexpected ‘Midwife’

Times Staff Writer

Film executive Michael Whitney is rather pleased with his latest production.

It started out as a routine business lunch last week at the Pacifica hotel in Culver City, he said, but it ended up “a rather extraordinary experience.”

Whitney played a starring role in the May 14 delivery of a 6-pound girl to a 29-year-old Sherman Oaks woman who did not make it to Gardena Memorial Hospital on time.

Mehrak Heidarnia said she and her husband were rushing to the hospital for the birth of their second daughter, Salma, when it became evident that Culver City was as far as they were going to get.


In a panic, they pulled off the San Diego Freeway and headed for the Pacifica hotel, where they hoped to find a doctor.

That’s where Whitney, owner of a Culver City film production company, came in.

“We had just sat down and ordered lunch in the restaurant in the hotel lobby when a woman came running in the door and called for a doctor or nurse,” he said. “She said a lady was having a baby in the driveway.”

Whitney hurried outside the hotel where Heidarnia was giving birth in the front seat of the family Toyota.


“People were to standing around, but nobody was assisting,” he said.

Having gone through childbirth training with his wife in preparation for the birth of their daughter 11 months ago, Whitney went to Heidarnia’s aid.

He saw the baby already had been expelled from the womb but had become entangled in her mother’s clothing.

He freed the baby, saw that she was breathing safely, untangled the umbilical cord from around her arm and placed her on the mother’s stomach until paramedics arrived a few minutes later.


Mother and child were taken to Brotman Memorial Hospital in Culver City and released that afternoon.

“Mother Nature is really the one who delivered the child,” Whitney said modestly.

But the new mother and her husband, musician and songwriter Ferbdoon Heidarnia, are pretty grateful to Whitney. They invited him and his wife, Donna, a Santa Monica neurologist, to dinner on Friday to celebrate the safe arrival of little Salma. The Heidarnias also have a 10-year-old daughter, Natasha.

Salma has gained a full pound in her first week, and in spite of the unusual circumstances of her delivery, “she didn’t have a scratch on her,” her mother said.


The Heidarnias said that in recent months they had lots of advice from friends on what hospital would be best for the delivery of their baby.

“Everyone made suggestions, but my husband says our Toyota was the best hospital of all,” the new mother said.