Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO NCOIC
YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — Soldiers recently received something they least expected – a baby.
Soldiers from 210th Brigade Support Battalion “Providers” and 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment “Polar Bears,” both units of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), 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, who serves as a battalion surgeon currently attached to 4-31 Infantry.
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,” he explained. “However, after discovering the child had an infection, we did not want him to go home.”
At 7 months old, Sajad was only the size of a 2-month-old. He is believed to have suffered brain injury during his birth.
“Sajad was very dehydrated and sick when we first saw him,” said Spec. Carrielynn Spillis, a 210th BSB medic, 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,” Spillis 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 Spec. Erin Byers, a medic with 210th BSB. “But it is a nice change of pace. I am used to dealing with Soldiers … it is a different mindset.”
After caring for Sajad for four days, Geaney decided the baby was well enough to return home. Before releasing the infant, Geaney and 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 stronger. At one point, Spillis said Sajad was actually feeding from a bottle.
Although 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,” he 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 to help him gain weight.