By Inkyeong (Stacey) YunSeptember 22, 2020

OSAN, REPUBLIC OF KOREA— A tiny but resilient passenger got on a KC-135 on September 17, 2020 at Osan Air Base.  An aeromedical evacuation was executed for Nehemiah Miller, a one month old premature infant, in need of neonatal intensive care. Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital (BDAACH) followed the care of baby Nehemiah before and after birth. Once he was stable BDAACH staff coordinated his transfer to ensure continued care at Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. Multidisciplinary efforts were made to successfully complete the mission of sending off the newborn baby across the Pacific Ocean. This marks BDAACH’s second neonatal air evacuation since the outbreak of the global pandemic, COVID-19.

Nehemiah was born at 25 weeks on August 17, 2020 in one of the BDAACH’s Network Hospitals.

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Because of the nature of premature birth, he was moved to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in this hospital.  Spending a month in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the infant received care for his medical conditions while awaiting permanent relocation to a place where he can receive the required long term neonatal intensive care and follow-on care.

On the day of his flight, Nehemiah was picked up by BDAACH’s Neonatologist and Deputy Commander for Clinical Services, Col. Joseph Hudak. Nehemiah was transferred to Osan Air Base by ambulance in a specially designed neonatal transport system (NTS). He was then transferred to an aircraft-approved NTS brought to Korea by a Neonatal Critical Care Transport Team out of Okinawa and loaded onto the KC-135. Throughout the movement, the neonate’s vital signs were carefully monitored. Nehemiah remained stable as if he wanted to show his appreciation for his care team by doing his part, being resilient and healthy.

“Having to go through many medical conditions and also a surgery with his tiny body weighing not even 1kg (2.2lbs), Nehemiah was small and fragile but unbelievably resilient. As he has a long journey ahead of him as he is an extremely low birth weight infant, we are hoping that he overcomes those obstacles with abundant love from his parents and care of the new NICU team” said Dr. Yum Suk-Kyung, Nehemiah’s doctor from the Host Nation Hospital as she thanked the Air Evacuation team and all parties involved who worked tirelessly to make this happen. She wished for the day to come for Nehemiah to be able to grow big enough to go back to the arms of his parents soon.

Spc. Davion Miller and Mrs. Rajeyah Miller, Nehemiah’s parents, were next to him throughout the evacuation, holding little fingers of the baby and comforting him whenever possible. The Miller family came to Korea from Fort Hood on their first duty assignment in the Army. As part of the evacuation process the Active Duty father will be reassigned to a unit in Fort Shafter, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Three Air Force NICU specialists, Air Force Maj. Joshua Anchan, Air Force Nurse Capt. Viviana Pearson, and Staff Sgt. Bianca Felan, Respiratory Technician, joined from Okinawa, Japan, to provide care during the flight from Osan to Hawaii. Dr. Anchan shared that the days like this is the most rewarding part of his job as he gets to make a lasting impact on someone’s life. Army Nurse Cpt. Shannon Glanton, Intensive Care Nurse, assigned to 135th Forward Resuscitative & Surgical Team of the 549th Hospital Center, also shared how rewarding it was for her to be part of the operation making a difference in an infant’s life.

The challenge of aeromedical evacuations during the global pandemic has increased but has not stopped BDAACH’s mission of providing healthcare to our fighting force and beneficiaries. The hospital manages all cases where patients receive care from more than 30 Host Nation hospitals under Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to monitor the care they receive and ensure appropriate follow-on care is coordinated.

“Today’s mission was very successful. It was actually not just Nehemiah but a complicated move of five patients from two different countries, covering all three services that is culminating here today with the final leg of the pick up to move over to Hawaii” said Hudak. “Amid COVID-19 we had to be more creative to remain ready to protect the force by enabling all medical care possible for our warfighters and the beneficiaries.”