By MC2 Stephane Belcher
USNS Comfort Public Affairs
The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) crew welcomed Isaias Valerio-Fonseca, the second baby since arriving in Puerto Rico and the first U.S. male baby born on the ship, Nov. 3.
Yaritza Valerio, the mother, and Luis Borja, the baby's father and a U.S. Navy veteran, arrived at Comfort Nov. 2, from Humacao, Puerto Rico, a city over an hour away, with their 18-month-old son.
"We knew that the Comfort was here," said Borja. "As a former Sailor I know the quality of the naval hospitals. So I didn't want to take any chances, we just came here. So we drove all the way from Humacao to San Juan."
Borja praised Comfort's crew, from the reception they received coming aboard to the continued treatment.
"As soon as they noticed that she was pregnant they rushed her into here to get medical treatment," said Borja. "And the service, we couldn't ask for more. We will be always grateful for what they have done for us. They do it with passion. It has been exceptional."
Valerio-Fonseca's honors were rendered and his arrival was announced over the ship's 1 Main Circuit shortly after his birth at 1:38 p.m. He weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces and was 18 inches long.
"He will know about this. Someday, he will know about this. Of course he will know I was a Sailor and I will tell him he born on a Navy vessel," said Borja, who also served aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), explaining how his baby boy had honors rendered on the naval ship. "He was never in the Navy and he got more honors than I did."
Valerio, teary-eyed, compares her experience on Comfort to the one she had when she delivered her first baby. She says she will always remember the way she has been treated and thanks the staff in neonatal intensive care unit.
"We have been treated well, very well," said Valerio. "This one, this delivery, this experience is way better that the first one. Here at a naval hospital, we have been treated well and received quality care."
Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Hwang, a family medicine physician from Naval Hospital Jacksonville, who did obstetrics fellowship for a year in Camp Lejeune, performed the cesarean section and recognized his shipmates aboard Comfort for their flawless response when it came down to the delivery.
"I didn't anticipate that we were going to be doing any C-sections on the ship," said Hwang. "There was a lot of support from all of the departments, like the operating room had everything ready. We had the pediatrics team there. We had all the support we needed."
Comfort is moored pier side in San Juan providing medical assistance to those affected by Hurricane Maria.
The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.
Comfort welcomes second baby since arriving in Puerto Rico
By MC2 Stephane Belcher