DUBAI // Doctors said there were times they almost lost hope for miracle baby Nicholas Sacramento because of the challenges he faced.
“For this baby at certain points we almost lost hope because he had such stormy issues,” said Dr Monika Kaushal, consultant neonatologist at Zulekha Hospital. “Everything was immature, his lungs, heart, eyes, even kidneys and he didn’t have a defence mechanism to fight off infections. He could not be fed directly because his intestines were immature, so all nutrition was done intravenously.”
At 23 weeks, Nicholas weighed only 530 grams at birth in October last year.
Thanks to close monitoring and quick intervention, he was spared damage to the brain, eyes and lung infections that micro premature babies face.
“The more immature the baby, the greater the problem,” Dr Kaushal said. “Every week makes a difference, so a 24-week baby has a better chance.”
Doctors also worried about tearing his skin when they touched him or attached probes to monitor his condition.
“When you remove the probe, the skin may peel off with it. If that happens, you lose the battle because the skin is the portal of infection,” she said. “You have to be sure not to cause infection when doing procedures.”
Weekly vision checks guard against a common disease called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) found where abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina that can cause it to detach leading to blindness.
Dr Prasan Rao, a specialist ophthalmologist with Medcare Eye Centre, will this month perform a 20-minute laser procedure on each of Nicholas’s eyes.
“There is a large area of the retina where there are no blood vessels so the laser is a stimulus to prevent vessels from growing in an abnormal direction and in some cases it can stimulate vessels to grow normally,” he said
Dr Rao, who has treated Nicholas since birth, said: “If you treat the baby early, you save his vision for life.”
“Prematurity is a life-long condition. If a child has a problem that is not picked up early, it could be a problem that will stay with him for life.”