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Kootenay Angel Flight carries first infant to Kelowna hospital

Silas Robert Wright, of Fernie, was only 12 hours old when he experienced respiratory complications
Sarah Wright and her son, Silas Robert Wright, Angel Flight East Kootenay’s first infant passenger. (Photo courtesy Brent Bidston)

Angel Flight East Kootenay has recorded another first, in its mission to help East Kootenay patients get help. The charitable organization that that flies East Kootenay residents to medical treatment centres in Kelowna for free, flew, for the first time, a newborn baby.

Silas Robert Wright, of Fernie, was only 12 hours old when respiratory complications at his birth required his immediate transport to Kelowna.

After Silas was born in May at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook, he wasn’t maintaining his oxygen levels, according to his mother, Sarah Wright.

Silas was diagnosed with transient tachypnea of the new born, and pneumothorax, and ventricular septal defects ( a hole in the wall of the heart (septum) that separates the two lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart.

Transient tachypnea of the newborn can present in infants shortly after birth. It is a breathing problem caused by a delay in the clearance of fetal lung fluid after birth, which leads to respiratory distress, and tachypnea.

Babies need extra oxygen for a few days, but most make a full recovery.

Pneumothorax is a collection of air outside the lung but within the pleural cavity. It can apply pressure on the lung and make it collapse.

Silas required immediate transport to Kelowna General Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. He and Sarah were taken to Cranbrook airport, and flew with medics to Vancouver, and thence to Kelowna. Angel Flight took mother and son back to Cranbrook from Kelowna.

Brent Bidston, who founded Angel Flight in 2019, said that the air charity had hitherto not carried infants and newborns, “because we use unpressurized aircraft — it’s not a good idea for them.

“But now, if an attending doctor says they’re okay to fly, as in a scheduled airline, then they’re okay to fly with us, because we’re pressurized now.” (Angel Flight recently acquired a new aircraft, with pressurized capabilities.)

“And we don’t get very high, either.” Bidston said. “So we accepted [Silas] as our first ever.”

Certainly the flight itself was a success — Silas slept the whole way. He is now back home in Fernie, and doing well.

Angel Flight East Kootenay is an entirely volunteer-led charitable organization with no paid employees. It’s mission is to fly residents of the East Kootenays to treatment centres in Kelowna, for free!

As a registered charity it is currently accepting donations to be able to continue offering free flights. See more at