By Sgt. Roxanna Mehedinti
MULTINATIONAL BASE TARIN KOWT, Afghanistan – With billions of people on the planet, you might not know anyone when walking down the street. But, what if you were connected to everyone you passed with “six degrees of separation?” This is a theory that everyone on the planet is connected to every other person through a chain of six acquaintances or less.
This theory was proven for Dr. Michael-Alice Moga, cardiac intensive care pediatrician, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, originally from Shoreview, Minn., when she found a strange connection with a 2-month-old baby girl.
“It was a little bit of a small world type thing,” said Michael-Alice Moga.
It all started on Sept. 20 when she received a call around midnight concerning a two month-old baby girl with an abnormal heart rhythm. The mother and grandmother of the baby girl were traveling through Chicago on their way to St. Louis when the baby developed the arrhythmia. After the baby was admitted into the intensive care unit, the doctors began to work on stabilizing her.
The baby was in serious condition and the baby’s father was an Army soldier who needed official permission to leave duty in order to get to her.
“As we were settling the baby after her arrival to the unit, we got a call from the Army doctor trying to get information in order to potentially get the father cleared for emergency leave,” said Michael-Alice Moga. “I could not safely leave the baby’s side so I sent my nurse to talk to the Army doctor. I told her, 'Tell the doc whatever you have to in order to get the father home as soon as possible.’”
After the infant was stable, Michael-Alice Moga walked to the waiting room to inform the mother on her daughter’s condition. During the conversation, she learned the baby’s father was deployed to Afghanistan.
“After the introductions, I told her that I could relate to her because my brother was also in Afghanistan,” said Michael-Alice Moga.
After talking together more, Michael-Alice Moga learned the father was the chaplain for 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade. The mother then glanced at her name plate and noticed that she was the sister to the husband’s boss, Battalion Commander Lt. Col. David Moga.
“It was out of this world crazy,” remarked Capt. Aron Stephens, 1-2 AVN chaplain, originally from Tampa, Fla., when he found out.
“The situation got personal for me when I found out that the father was deployed,” said Michael-Alice Moga. “Once I found out this, I sent an email to my brother after my shift saying that this brought it close to home for me, tugged at my heart strings.”
When David Moga learned about the story he said, “I am very touched and proud that my little sister was operating on the baby.”
Stephens was informed of the incident through a Red Cross message. Within five to ten minutes he was off to the terminal to catch a flight. With all that had happened, Stephens said his first priority was to take care of his family.
Upon his arrival to Kuwait, he was escorted to the connecting flight for security reasons. He was reunited with his wife at the hospital in Chicago, where he met his daughter for the first time.
Chaplain Stephens and his family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House program provides a home-away-from-home for families so they can stay close to hospitalized family members at little or no cost. Stephens said the Ronald McDonald House was a life saver.
The family stayed in the hospital for about 17 days until the baby was healthy enough to move to St. Louis where the mother was staying while Stephens was deployed. Stephens had many tense moments and said he was thankful that a miracle from God saved her life.
The daughter was admitted into the hospital in St. Louis for a few days to monitor her heart and was discharged from the hospital a week later. Kinley Sage Stephens currently wears a heart monitor at home for the doctors to monitor and is getting healthier every day.
“I’m just really grateful to have had the opportunity to hold my daughter,” said Stephens.