Special heart-lung machine saves Beduin newborn

Couple's first son is saved by sophisticated treatment, that included days of being connected to a $200,000 device at Sheba Medical Center’s Edmund and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital.

By
September 2, 2010 05:21
2 minute read.
Cute baby

cute baby 311. (photo credit: courtesy)

A three-week-old Beduin baby who would likely have been aborted if his mother had undergone an ultrasound scan during pregnancy has been saved from a congenital defect with sophisticated treatment, that included days of being connected to a $200,000 device at Sheba Medical Center’s Edmund and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital.

The first son of Rahat residents Rasha and Shadi Elkranawi, themselves barely out of their teens, was born at 2.6 kilos in Rasha’s ninth month at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.

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His condition immediately turned critical, as doctors diagnosed a diaphramatic hernia, in which the intestines move up into the chest cavity and put pressure on the lungs. Soroka lacked the special equipment needed to keep him breathing and his heart beating after an operation.

Although doctors didn’t know if the baby would survive the transfer to Sheba at Tel Hashomer, they nonetheless sent him there and hasty arrangements were made for him with Prof. Gideon Paret, head of the medical center’s pediatric intensive care department.

Four expert staffers – some of them on vacation in other parts of the country – were urgently called to the department to perform surgery to push the intestines back into the baby’s abdomen and repair the hernia. The operation was a battle against time. Due to the pressure, some damage had already been done to the lungs.

Even more difficult than the surgery, Paret told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, was helping him survive the critical days after the two-hour operation. The baby was attached under sedation to an extracorporal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) device that gives oxygen and support to a newborn whose heart and lungs are so severely damaged that untreated, they can no longer function.

Without opening his chest, doctors attached the tiny baby to the ECMO via arteries in his neck, and he remained connected for four days. Gradually, his condition improved, as the expensive machine allowed his lungs and heart to recover their function
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His worried parents caressed him while he lay attached to the device and they fasted all day for Ramadan. The pediatricians gradually reduced the flow of oxygen and stopped the machine momentarily to see if he could breathe and his heart could beat on its own. When persuaded that the organs could function without outside assistance, the doctors detached the ECMO, and he is recovering nicely.

“He’s a very sweet baby,” said Paret, “and his parents are very grateful. Where else in the world would medical teams bother to save a newborn from the middle of nowhere and suffering from such a congenital defect – and give him the absolutely best treatment available to save him? “He will be sent home next week and be a healthy child,” he said. “He will not need any special treatment or equipment as he recovers.”


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