Deployed military family pays-it-forward after newborn needs medical evacuation

ST. LOUIS, MO - Taylor and Scott Ray, with the 375th Force Support Squadron, were expecting to have a healthy baby boy while deployed in Guam. A medical evacuation helped save their newborn child's life. Now the Rays are trying to pay-it-forward.

Scott Air Force Base says baby Liam needed life-saving surgery after he was born. The baby was having trouble with his chest rising and lowering.

"The doctor came in and told us about his heart defect. We were obviously confused because we had not heard of it," said Taylor Ray.

The baby was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries. TGA basically means that the baby was born with his arteries coming in backwards.

According to the Stanford Children's Health website, "Transposition of the great arteries is a congenital (present at birth) heart defect. Due to abnormal development of the fetal heart during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy, the large vessels that carry blood from the heart to the lungs, and to the body are improperly connected. Essentially, the connections in the heart are 'swapped.'"

Scott Air Force Base writes on Facebook that the "Air Force sent an aeromedical evacuation team to sustain and transport him across the ocean within a few hours."

Doctors sent the Rays to the Guam Memorial Hospital where they waited 3-4 hours before the team in Japan picked them up. The new family, medics and a 500lb life-saving machine were loaded into a C-130 for the trip back to the United States.

"I am forever grateful to the Air Force for their contribution to our son's life," said father Scott Ray.

The Rays want to pay-it-forward after receiving overwhelming support. They hosted "Little Hats, Big Hearts" at St. Louis Children's' Hospital to make hats for newborns. The red knit hats were given to babies in February during American Heart Month, whether they have congenital heart disease or not. They exceeded their goal of 300 hats by over 150 donations. They plan on making it an annual event.