Project Dynamo rescues premature babies from Ukraine

It was a journey that found Bryan Stern holding his breath the entire time.

"The whole time," Stern said. "The whole time. All 14 hours of it."

The co-founder of Tampa non-profit Project Dynamo had a very specific mission to carry-out – get three premature babies from war-torn Kyiv to Poland, and fast.

"It was very difficult, very hard," he said. "Premature birth alone, is scary. Premature birth in a war zone is even more scary. And now we had to cross the border with them. There was artillery the morning we had to go to the two different hospitals."

In one hospital – a premature British baby girl. In another, twin American boys born to a Ukrainian surrogate – their American parents had spent the last several weeks frantically trying to get her to safety.

"She was in one hospital and switched hospitals after she gave birth," he said of the surrogate mother. "That hospital was flattened. She would have been dead if she stayed. The artillery actually flew into her floor."

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Making their way to Poland, Stern says he knew this rescue mission was outside of his wheelhouse.

"I don’t know anything about premature babies," he said. "I know how to clean a lot of guns and do a lot of other things. I’m an educated man, but I can’t speak intelligently about premature babies! Not even a little bit."

They learned what they could last minute.

"We did some research and talked to some doctors brought some doctors with us – we had two neo-natal specialists that we found."

And when they crossed the border into Poland, they were close to safety, but Stern was still waiting to exhale.

"We had pulled into the garage at the hospital and someone said well now you can finally relax," he said. "And I said I don’t relax until I see those babies plugged into the wall of a hardened building."

That’s exactly what he made sure, happened next – that, and meeting the father of the twin boys.

"It was amazing," he said. "Amazing. I don’t have children, but all of these cases are personal to me. I cherish every single one of them."

And its safe to say this case, and these three young lives he helped rescue will stay close to his heart for a very long time.

Project Dynamo is a 100% donor-funded organization that prior to Ukraine, was in Afghanistan, conducting rescue operations. To learn more go to