Tiniest Baby Survival
However, it hasn’t always been this way. The farther back in time you go, the lower the chances that babies born so prematurely would survive. It is even more reason to celebrate the survival of the world’s ‘tiniest’ baby to successfully undergo heart surgery.
The little boy from India’s Rajasthan state was born earlier this year at 28 weeks. As a general rule, babies born between 28 and 32 weeks are considered very preterm. In the case of this baby, his body was so small and underdeveloped that doctors believed he was too fragile to touch. The child’s caregivers had to be extremely careful about every aspect of care.
The need for surgery became apparent when the baby developed breathing problems related to the aorta and pulmonary arteries remaining connected. The two arteries are normally connected in the womb but then separate after birth. In his case, that separation did not occur.
Surgery in the NICU
When it became apparent to doctors that surgery was necessary, they debated whether to move the child into a different department or to a new hospital altogether. They determined the child was too fragile to be moved at all, so they arranged for the complex surgery to take place right in the NICU.
Using specialised surgical instruments and a lot of care and attention, doctors were able to successfully separate the two arteries and clear up the baby’s breathing troubles. The child successfully pulled through the operation. Now medical staff and the child’s parents are very hopeful about his future. And they should be; it is nothing short of a miracle that this baby survived the operation.
Medical Science Has Come a Long Way
The main points of this story are all about this amazing little boy, his parents, and the medical staff who have taken such good care of him in the hospital. But below all those apparent storylines is the reality that medical science has come a long way over last 50 years.
A baby born at 28 weeks back in the 1950s was almost certain to die. We just did not have the technology or knowledge to care for such tiny babies. Today, 28 weeks is as routine as routine can get in the NICU. We have so much more knowledge now about how infant bodies develop both in the womb and out. We have a lot more knowledge regarding surgical procedures, medications, and therapies for premature babies.
In short, we have access to a lot more tools and information than ever before. The result is higher survival rates for premature babies born prior to the 32nd week.
Not an Easy Road
We are always happy to report on stories like this little baby from India who survived heart surgery against all the odds. We know these kinds of stories give other parents hope for their own premature babies. Nonetheless, we do not want to give the false impression that caring for a baby born at just 28 weeks is easy. It’s not. In fact, it is a very difficult road to traverse.
Medical science has evolved tremendously over the last 50 years to the point that survival rates for premature babies are higher than they have ever been. But the one thing that has not changed is the emotional turmoil parents and caregivers go through. That will always be a tough road to travel.