BOSTON – Edwin Paredes joked with his wife Yashira as she went the final minutes of labor in delivering their first child, Mia Victoria Paredes, early Saturday morning.

The only unusual thing was that Marine Lance Cpl. Paredes was in Taqaddum, Iraq at the time, 8,000 miles away from his wife at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Paredes was able to observe the birth through the collaboration of BIDMC with the Freedom Calls Foundation, which built a satellite network to keep families connected because there is no Internet infrastructure in Iraq.

Paredes talked his wife through the labor and delivery right to his wife’s bedside – and then again Sunday via an enterprise class videoconference.

«I’m so thankful that Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center stepped up to help us in our time of need,» the new mother said. «I thought I’d be having this baby alone. We never could have imagined that my husband could have been here for the birth when he is 8,000 miles away fighting a war. This means the world to me and my family.»

Yashira is a Dorchester native while Edwin grew up in East Boston. They met at East Boston High School. She is currently living with her mother in Medford.

Going forward, Freedom Calls has arranged for Paredes to see his wife and daughter three times a month at their home via video conference. Home video conferencing is an available service to all military families and will come in handy to the Edwin and Yashira, high school sweethearts who have been separated since August.

«The foundation is transforming a long-standing family communication paradigm in time of war by enabling soldiers in the war zone to attend and participate in milestone family events like weddings, 1st communions and new births, etc.,» said John Harlow, Executive Director of the Freedom Calls Foundation.

«Soldiers may now keep their commitments to their families at the same time they keep their commitment to their country. The long-term vision of the Freedom Calls Foundation is that our war fighters will be able to come home from a day on the battlefield and spend virtual time with their families every night using state-of-the-art technology «

The Paredes family video conferences are being conducted over the satellite network that Freedom Calls has built in cooperation with the army and Marines to serves U.S. deployed military personnel and their families 24 hours per day free of charge. It is funded 100 percent by donations by the American public. The Foundation receives no financial support from the government or the military. Freedom Calls is the 2008 recipient of The Newman’s Own Award for the most innovative service that improves the lives of military families.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and consistently ranks among the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit www.bidmc.org .

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