Adams mother Sabreen shares her story about her son the life-saving ECMO technology that saved her son Adam’s life.
The first time you see your baby is an unforgettable experience. In our case, it became so much more than that, as we almost lost ours.
On December 28th, 2018, we welcomed our beautiful baby boy Adam at Hamad Medical Corporation’s Women’s Hospital. Right up until then, everything was going smoothly. When we first laid eyes on him – it all seemed so normal. He was so beautiful!
But then he started making gurgling noises. Our joy turned to despair as we only saw him for about few seconds before he was rushed out of the room in an incubator to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Seeing Adam being whisked away was heart breaking – I didn’t get a chance to hold him or make enough skin to skin contact.
It turned out that Adam was born with a serious condition called meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS). He acquired the condition while he was still inside my stomach. MAS occurs when a baby passes their first bowel movement and inhales the stool particles. As a result, Adam’s air passages were blocked and he was struggling to breathe. Without immediate attention, the risks of brain damage or death are very high.
Our world had shattered – what would have been a happy time celebrating the birth of our first child changed to one of dread as we worried whether our little baby would make it.
The team at HMC advised that Adam needed to be urgently transferred to Sidra Medicine, a specialist children’s hospital and the only one in Qatar that had the right experts and technologies to treat babies born with MAS. They immediately mobilized things into action to transfer Adam to Sidra Medicine.
Once Adam arrived at Sidra Medicine’s NICU, it was quickly determined that he had severe respiratory issues and that the only option to save his life and reduce the risk of brain damage, would require the help of an advanced technology treatment called ECMO which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
In Adam’s case, the ECMO would take over the function of his lungs, allowing the rest of his organs to rest and recover from a reversible condition like MAS. Without ECMO, Adam only had a 10 percent chance of survival, but with it, his chances could go up by 85 percent!
You can imagine, in our rush and fear how hard it would be to take in all the details related to saving Adam’s life and what he would have to undergo. We were very lucky to work with an excellent team, including Dr. Anand Dhullipala from Sidra Medicine’s Neonatology department, who explained every medical term to us. He even drew sketches describing the process. We were so comforted knowing that our baby was going to be given the best care and support to save his life.
Adam was on the ECMO for four days before being switched to a ventilator. It also turned out that he was one of the first patients at Sidra Medicine to undergo ECMO for the lungs, as the technology was a fairly recent addition to the Neonatology department.
Once Adam was weaned from the ECMO to the traditional ventilator – we were comforted knowing that he was definitely recovering and out of danger. But it was a long process as Adam was in the hospital for nearly a month.
During that time, we will never forget the care and support we received from the Neonatology team and the social workers. They comforted us and made sure we were always kept informed about Adam’s progress.
While Adam was in the hospital, I also wanted to ensure that Adam would receive my breast milk, which was fed to him via a tube. I am forever grateful to the lactation consultants who helped me through this time. It was one of the ways, I felt that I could still be connected to my son, despite being detached by an ECMO machine and then the ventilator.
Once we got the all clear about Adam’s condition and that he was ready to be discharged from the hospital – it felt like a huge weight had lifted from us. We were so relieved, ecstatic that we were finally taking him home.
We are so thankful that this amazing ECMO technology was made available on time because it saved Adam’s life. We also cannot express enough gratitude to everyone across the healthcare network from HMC to the miracle ECMO team at Sidra Medicine, who monitored and cared for Adam around the clock and never left his side.
Adam is now three months old. We are so pleased with his rapid development and growth. We come back to Sidra Medicine once a month, for the team to follow up on his health and progress. Every trip back is further validation of how incredibly lucky and blessed we are to have such a facility in Qatar with amazing doctors who are dedicated to caring for our children.
I cannot believe that only a few months ago, we had such a scare about his life and here we are today, all breathing a lot easier to have our baby back with us, happy and healthy.
Read the Arabic version here.
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