Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, writes....
YUSUFIYAH, Iraq, Feb. 26, 2007 — Soldiers recently received something they least expected – a baby.
Soldiers from the 210th Brigade Support Battalion “Providers” and the 4th Battalion 31st Infantry Regiment “Polar Bears,” both units of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), took care of a sick Iraqi baby boy at the Patrol Base Yusufiyah aid station here.
“The baby’s mother brought him to us because he was very sick,” said Maj. Casey Geaney, a native of Portland, Ore., who serves as a battalion surgeon currently attached to the 4-31st.
Knowing that the baby, Sajad, was very ill and that the Iraqi medical system did not have the capabilities to care for the infant, Geaney decided Sajad would become an in-patient.
“Usually this is not an in-patient facility,” Geaney explained. “However, after discovering the child had an infection we did not want him to go home.”
Sajad, who was seven months of age, was only the size of a two-month-old. He was believed to have suffered brain injury during his birth.
“Sajad was very dehydrated and sick when we first saw him,” said Spc. Carrielynn Spillis, a 210th BSB medic and native of Toledo, Ohio, as she held him in her arms. “We have been feeding him through a tube because he was too weak to feed from a bottle.
”Keeping Sajad was a huge responsibility for the team. He required around-the-clock attention, just as any infant.“We would take turns watching him,” Spills explained. “One medic would stay with him at the aid station during the night and others would watch him during the day.”
Another medic shared her thoughts of caring for Sajad.“It’s tiring to take care of him,” said Spc. Erin Byers, a medic with the 210th BSB and native of Guysmills, Penn.
“But it is a nice change of pace. I am used to dealing with soldiers, but Sajad allowed me to be compassionate – it is a different mindset.”
After caring for Sajad for four days, Geaney decided he was well enough to return home. But before releasing the infant, Geaney and the medics taught Sajad’s father how to care for him. “They (the doctor and medics) did a nice job,” said Nasseir Alaobed, Sajad’s father, as he was learning to feed his son through a tube. “The Iraqi hospitals do not have this kind of care and I am glad I brought him in.”
Sajad was returned to his parents fully hydrated and with more strength. At one point, Spillis was mentioned that Sajad was actually feeding from a bottle.
Though the soldiers were able to care for Sajad, the need for Iraqi children to see doctors in Iraq is immense.
“There are a lot of children with chronic problems and it is frustrating that we are seeing so many patients that need help,” Geaney said. “But we do what we can do to help.”
“Sajad has a better chance of survival,” Geaney added with a smile.
Sajad’s parents were sent home with lessons on how to care for him and infant formula that contained extra calories in order to help the infant gain weight.
Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Carrielynn Spillis, a medic with the 210th Brigade Support Battalion “Providers,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, shows Nasseir Alaobed how to care for his infant son at the Patrol Base Yusufiyah aid station in Yusufiyah, Iraq Feb. 21, 2007. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie.