By: Shimmy Blum
Wyatt and Holden Krean, who were born in May in Houston with severe complications at just 24 weeks, were stuck for the past month in Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston with no way home. While they were receiving the highest quality care in Texas, the Krean family lives in Beachwood, N.J. and the challenge of bringing twin infants in need of constant intensive care were huge.
Today they are safe and sound here in N.J. for the first time, receiving outstanding care at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center’s NICU, and allowing their family to reunite. Their proud parents, Ty and Susan Krean of Beachwood, as well as their older sons Aidan and Oliver, are all back together, and more than pleased that their babies are now in their home state. This has allowed Ty to return to his work in the automotive industry and Susan to her position as a Toms River schoolteacher.
Simcha Shain, CEO of Paraflight EMS medical transport service – a veteran Lakewood Hatzolah paramedic and Howell First Aid volunteer – arranged for the Kreans’ transport from Houston, which took place on Tuesday, October 24th. This was no simple journey, yet Simcha provided the coordination and complex, costly medical services for the transport out of pocket, at no cost to the Kreans. (The parents secured funding for the airplane charter, which Simcha arranged at a lower-than-usual cost.) Paraflight’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Merlin, the prestigious ER chief at Newark Beth Israel, and chief medical officer of MONOC, was particularly instrumental in arranging for the transport, and is now overseeing the twins’ care.
“I first heard about this from Rabbi Aaron Kotler, President of Beth Medrash Govoha, who knew of my background as a Lakewood based Paramedic and of my work arranging medical evacuation flights around the globe,” says Mr. Shain. “The Rabbi called me and asked me to help get these infants home. This touched my soul; I was determined to do everything I can to help, and we thankfully pulled through.”
“I read the most special heartwarming story in the Asbury Park Press about these babies and thought that perhaps we can chip in a bit to help out,” Rabbi Kotler recounts. “I called Shain, who is a neighbor Io I knew ran a first class medical flight based right here in Lakewood.”
Rabbi Kotler reached out to Toms River Jewish Community Council, asking them to help the Kreans raise the needed funds. Although Ty and Susan Krean are not Jewish, the Toms River Orthodox community responded with spirit and heart, helping raising a significant portion of the needed funds for the charter.
According to Rabbi Moshe Rotberg, of the Orthodox affiliated Toms River Learning Center, the moment the call went out to help a neighbor in need the responses started to pour in: “We raised over $4,000 in a matter of hours, just by word of mouth, from hundreds of Orthodox families in Toms River. Helping children in need, of any faith, is the greatest mitzvah, plus this was our way of expressing appreciation to all our Toms River neighbors for their friendliness and warmth.”
The twins were originally supposed to be transported by the Grace on Wings organization, but the organization was unable to arrange the flight, citing the difficulties and potential dangers of transporting twins cross country while providing the highest level of neonatal support. Rabbi Kotler then asked Mr. Shain to figure the difficult logistics out, and Shain stepped in. He found a suitable aircraft that could handle both twins, their mom Susan, a full complement of top medical staff, all necessary equipment and oxygen apparatus, in one nonstop flight from Houston Airport to Teterboro, NJ, airport.
Shain arranged for top notch Paraflight staff – Dr. Josh Schwartzbaum, Emergency Medicine specialist at Newark Beth Israel and flight physician; Neonatologist Dr. Alex Feldman of University Hospital – Newark; and Ann Yaeger, a veteran NICU and PICU nurse at Newark Beth Israel – to come along. Both Dr. Schwartzbaum and Dr. Feldman are Hatzolah members and they have worked many times with Shain on emergency medical matters. Mr. Shain was on the flight as well along with Lakewood’s Yehoshua Lapidus, a volunteer EMT with Lakewood First Aid, who served as logistical coordinator.
In addition to the double patient load, long distance, and large equipment and staffing requirement, the transport was difficult for other reasons as well. There is an FAA regulation that a pilot’s shift can take no longer than 14 hours from initial takeoff preparations until the final landing of the journey. Hence, since the flight crew began preparations at Teterboro at 7:00 am, they needed to be wheels down back home by 9:00 pm, no matter what. The 3:47 hour flight to Houston was extended by a stop in Alabama that was necessary due to stormy weather and 120 knot-per-hour headwinds.
Simcha and the crew had backup plans for a possible landing en route to Teterboro, with a pair of ambulances finalizing the journey to Newark.
However, delay and all, they made it to Teterboro a little early, shortly before 8:00 pm, aided in part by the storm’s tailwinds, which enabled speeds as high as 607 miles per hour. In Houston, two ambulances transported the twins from the hospital to the airport in a time efficient manner.
Wyatt and Holden were given special blankets by the team, each custom embroidered with the baby’s name with the title “Captain.” Dr. Schwartzbaum, a musician, brought his guitar on board and played soothing music during the journey. Upon landing in Teterboro, two Lakewood Hatzolah ambulances were waiting on the tarmac, with Dr. Merlin and Hatzolah members from Lakewood and Toms River, onboard.
Mr. Shain and the rest of the medical transport team accompanied mother and babies to the hospital. He and Mr. Lapidus arrived to Lakewood at midnight. The journey was long and intense, but the fulfillment that Shain and his team felt upon its successful culmination eclipsed all. “We were able to help this special couple from our region, and we join Ty and Susan in praying for continued improvement in Wyatt and Holden’s condition,” Simcha reflects.
For their part, Ty and Susan are beyond grateful for all the warmth and assistance that has been extended to them from so many corners. Donations poured in from throughout the region and beyond on their GoFundMe page and you can still contribute here to help these twins on their path to full recovery (Donate Here). “They made a heartbreaking turn of events turn into one of the best days of our lives,” Ty says. “In particular, I cannot say enough how fast, reliable and caring Sim and his team were. We can never thank everyone involved enough for what they have done.”
More than any religious or cultural differences Ocean County residents may have, Ocean County residents stand strong and united in common humanity and compassion. They are united in their best wishes for the entire Krean family and in seeing these children grow up and bring smiles to their families and friends.