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On the Wings of Angels: Brynnleigh's Story

January 18, 2019

Your support helps give the Angel One Transport team their wings

By Becky McCauley


Matt Whaley loves his job. He cares for some of Arkansas’ sickest, most vulnerable children. When a child is critically ill or injured, his team is called. They travel to hospitals around the state and whisk children to life-saving care at Arkansas Children’s.

Matt is a flight nurse with the Arkansas Children’s Angel One Transport team.

Matt began working as a registered nurse in the Emergency Department at Arkansas Children’s 14 years ago.
Then, in 2013, he landed his dream job—he would be a part of the nationally recognized team of champions known as “Angel One.”

“One of the many things l love about my job is the appreciation my team and I receive from frantic moms and dads,” says Matt. “I can see the sheer relief on their faces when we walk through the doors.”

When Angel One arrives, these frightened, anxious parents know their precious babies will soon be on their way to a hospital designed specifically for children like 16-month-old Brynnleigh Morris.

Brynnleigh was taken to the local hospital after suffering a seizure while visiting her grandparents. The doctor ran tests that showed abnormal results. He decided there was only one thing to do:

He called the Angel One Transport team to rush Brynnleigh to Arkansas Children’s.

Angel One was extremely busy that night. When the call came through, both helicopters were out on other missions. But as soon as Matt and his team arrived back, they took off into the darkness to pick up little Brynnleigh and her mom Olivia from the hospital near their hometown of Prattsville. Dad Dylan hurriedly drove to Little Rock to be there with his family.

Matt’s job was to monitor Brynnleigh to ensure she arrived safely at Arkansas Children’s where she could receive the expert care she needed.

The Arkansas Children’s Angel One Transport program is special for many reasons:

Arkansas Children’s owns two helicopters and is responsible for maintenance, which helps ensure an excellent safety record. Everyone who flies on the Angel One helicopter—pilots, respiratory therapists and nurses like me—are employees of Arkansas Children’s.

Angel One is one of the few pediatric transport programs in the country that
provides mobile ECMO
—a machine that supports the heart and lungs to allow them time to heal. Once, we were even called to transport an ECMO patient from a hospital in
Las Vegas to one in California!

Our helicopters contain right-size equipment for children. In fact, during a majority of our flights, we care for tiny, fragile premature babies.

Angel One flight nurses receive advanced training. Our helicopters are equipped to fly in severe weather. And in most cases, one or even both parents can be on board while their child is being transported.

Without your generous support, programs like Angel One couldn’t provide life-saving care for kids in Arkansas. “I’m so proud to be part of this special team of people who often are the difference between life and death for children like Brynnleigh,” says Matt.

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