Update: Twin newborns medically evacuated from Osan Air Base, South Korea, landed at Joint Base Andrews in a C-17 Globemaster III this evening. The pair were then transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for advanced neonatal care.
Parker and Laine McFall were born February 17 at 30 weeks in Daegu’s Yeungnam Medical University Medical Center during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The twins were joined for the aeromedical evacuation by their parents, U.S. Army Spc. Cody McFall and Pfc. Cheyenne Evans. Both soldiers were preemptively tested for COVID-19 and placed in quarantine on March 10. They tested negative and are currently showing no symptoms.
The effort involved the U.S. Army’s 65th Medical Brigade, the U.S. Air Force’s 51st Medical Group, the USAF’s 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, the Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, and the 11th Medical Group Aeromedical Staging Facility on Joint Base Andrews.
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is the only facility currently able to accommodate the infants’ specific needs.
“It’s a significant movement because we have a family that needs some care not readily available here in Korea,” Col Joseph Hudak, a neonatologist from Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital at Camp Humphreys, said in a video Osan Air Base posted on Facebook.
Parker and Laine McFall were born 10 weeks early on Feb. 17 to Army’s Spc. Cody McFall and Pfc. Cheyenne Evans at the Yeungnam Medical University Medical Center in Daegu, amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the area.
After being medically cleared and protected from the virus, the twins were taken from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the medical center in Daegu to Osan Air Base where they met a specialized group of medical personnel from the Air Force’s 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, based out of Kadena Air Base in Japan.
They then boarded a C-17 to head to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, “culminating in care at Maryland’s Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for advanced neonatal patients,” the Air Force’s 51st Fighter Wing said in a news release Monday.
“We have to move them across to the other side of the world, and this is a truly joint effort,” Hudak said. “This is an Air Force critical care team, moving an Army family to a Navy hospital, and we’re doing it seamlessly in the middle of a pandemic.”
Prior to the evacuation, McFall and Evans — who are with the 188th Military Police Company at Camp Walker near Daegu — were quarantined starting on March 10 and also tested negative for COVID-19.
“Advanced precautions were made to protect the infants, parents, medical providers and aircrew coming from across the region to support the critical care transport,” the 51st Fighter Wing said in a news release.
In addition to the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, the medical evacuation involved the Army’s 65th Medical Brigade, the Air Force’s 51st Medical Group, and the Air National Guard’s 154th Wing.