June 30th, 2006 07:43 EST
Soldiers Find, Save Infant by Pfc. Paul J. Harris
BALAD, Iraq – Soldiers from Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Balad saved the life of an abandoned, near-death baby June 9.
Staff Sgt. Donald White, patrol leader 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Band of Brothers, and his team came across a box on the side of the road while on patrol.
Initially, he thought it was an improvised explosive device until he heard crying coming from the box. White made sure there were no wires protruding from the box and made sure it was not booby trapped. Then he picked it up.
“I ran as fast as I could, snatched the box off the ground and kept on running, thankfully nothing blew up,” White said.
White then asked Spc. John Sullivan, healthcare specialist, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery, to evaluate the child and assess its medical needs.
The skin was literally hanging off the child and we could see it was massively dehydrated and malnourished. Sullivan told me we needed to get the child to a hospital right away and we jumped into the trucks and drove to the hospital as fast as we could, Smith said.
In transit to Balad Air Base hospital, Sullivan turned the air conditioning vents in the baby's direction so the air would cool the child.
I was nervous because I have never had to professionally treat a sick child before, Sullivan said. “(He) did not cry at all in the vehicle but his eyes rolled in the back of his head and I thought ‘oh my goodness he is starting to die on me.'”
By the time the patrol made its way to the Balad Air Base hospital the staff was already waiting for them when the vehicles pulled up. The Air Force medical staff treated the child by putting a feeding tube into him to replenish lost fluids. After a while the baby regained its strength and was in stable enough condition to be released. A civilian liaison with the Iraqi hospital in Balad was called and the child was released to hospital care.
White credits the success of the rescue to the members of his patrol, not just himself and Sullivan.
In all this mess of arresting people, killing people and getting blown up, finally something good has come out of it, Smith said. Hopefully as a result, God will bless us for the next few months we are here.
The baby was reunited with his mother June 19. The mother of the child told Iraqi Police she left the child in her daughter's care. The daughter was carrying the baby on the road near the LSA when she was chased by wild dogs and left the baby so she could run faster, according to reports given to Capt. Lance Awbrey, commander, Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery.