Sharjah: Quick thinking by the paediatric neonatologist at a Sharjah hospital saved a premature baby born at 31 weeks of gestation who had suffered a ruptured lung.
Describing the challenging case, Dr Abdullahi Farah Asayer, senior consultant paediatrician and neonatologist at the Burjeel Speciality Hospital, Sharjah, told Gulf News: “Baby Ahlam Mujahed, was born almost seven weeks premature at 31 weeks of gestation on July 15. She is the third child in the family and before this, the mother had given birth to twin sons who were also born prematurely. One of the twins too suffered respiratory distress at birth, similar to what Baby Ahlam had. I think there might be some inherited lung anatomy that is susceptible to pneumothorax (collapsed lung).”
In the case of Baby Ahlam, initially, after birth, she seemed fine and was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where she went into respiratory distress and had to be treated for dilating the lungs and provide ventilator support through a C- Pap, Dr Asayer explained.
Her condition stabilised after this procedure. However, the baby kept going into respiratory distress and the blood gases indicated accumulation of carbon dioxide. X-rays showed a possible collapsed left lung as there were bubbles of air trapped there, indicating that the organ was ruptured.
First, the doctor carried out a needle aspiration as an emergency procedure, which improved the oxygen saturation. “However, I had to insert a chest tube to help the baby breathe and allow for her lungs to rest and heal naturally,” explained Dr Asayer.
On the ninth day of intubation, the baby was weaned off the external ventilation and under observation, it was noticed that her lungs had healed. “Normally, with ruptured lungs in a case of a premature baby, there is an almost 80-90 per cent chance of fatality. I am happy that the newborn is no longer under any respiratory distress after 11 days is able to breathe independently. She is stable, breathing independently but under observation. We are planning to discharge her in a few days,” Dr Asayer said.
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Relieved to have this life-saving experience
Mujahed Hamoud, father of Baby Ahlam, expressed great relief and happiness. “Due to premature birth and leakage in the lungs, my daughter was facing respiratory distress. Last time, during the birth of our twin boys, we faced a similar problem and we had to transfer our baby then, to a government hospital to save her life. This time we were lucky to come to Dr Asayer at Burjeel, Sharjah, who was previously working at the same government hospital. He has extensive experience. He and the rest of the staff handled the situation most professionally and efficiently. It was a blessing for us as we did not have to transfer the baby to a government hospital like last time. My wife has been coming to the NICU to provide expressed breast milk for the baby. We are happy to take her home now.”
What is Penumothorax?
This is a condition when a lung collapses when the air gets into the chest cavity because of leakage, creating pressure from outside a against the lung. Pneumothorax is a rare condition and requires emergency intervention. In case of premature babies, who may have a weak respiratory system, the chances of fatality owing to pneumothorax is almost 90 per cent.