Staffers at Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya saved the life of a month-old baby, after performing a treatment never before used in Israel.

The government hospital announced Tuesday that the baby was discharged after her recovery.

The newborn contracted whooping cough and was hospitalized in pediatric intensive care. A multidisciplinary team from the pediatric intensive care department, pediatric pulmonology, the infectious diseases unit and pediatric hematology cared for the baby, who was infected before her parents managed to get her vaccinated against the disease.

Dr. Ze’ev Sonis, head of pediatric intensive care, noted that the disease can be very serious – and sometimes fatal – in young children. In some cases, there is an increase in white blood cells due to toxins released by the bacteria that cause the disease – which in fact caused the baby to develop pulmonary hypertension.

In the world medical literature, only a few similar cases have been found, and just a few of these have been successfully treated. Because of the baby’s dangerous condition, it was decided to replace her blood with infused blood.

The procedure was carried out by Sonis; Dr. Yoav Hoffmann and Dr. Yoav Hoffman and Dr. Husein Dabbah of the pediatric intensive care department; hematology’s Dr. Amir Kuperman; and Dr. Danny Glickman of the infectious disease unit.

“What led to the decision of blood replacement,” said Kuperman, “was the awareness that the risk of doing so was less than not doing so. After consulting with outside experts in the field, we performed it, and it was a success. It greatly improved the baby’s condition, and she was weaned from her respirator after weeks of hospitalization. She is the first Israeli to have been successfully treated for the condition this way.”

Whooping cough can be prevented by vaccinating children in family health (tipat halav) centers. However, very young babies have sometimes been infected because they were not old enough to get their shots.

They are usually infected by relatives – their parents or older siblings. The risk can be minimized by immunizing pregnant women against whooping cough and completing vaccination schedules of all family members expecting a baby.

The baby’s parents emotionally thanked the hospital team for saving her with an expert diagnosis and treatment.

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