Four-month-old Raelynn – born at just 24-weeks gestation - is heading home for the first time. It’s been a complicated journey for first-time mom, Raveen, but one that was made easier thanks to the support she and Raelynn received at Blythedale Children’s Hospital.
During her 117-day NICU stay, Raelynn required patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) ligation (surgery to prevent abnormal blood flow between the heart’s major arteries) and laser eye surgery. She was also diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), a chronic lung disease that required significant respiratory interventions to help her breathe. Once Raelynn’s condition stabilized, her mother acted on recommendations from the NICU staff and transferred her daughter to Blythedale. “I was ready for her to come to Blythedale because I knew the next step would be bringing her home.”
Upon admission in early November, Dr. Dennis Davidson, Blythedale’s Unit Chief for the Infant & Toddler Unit, alongside Blythedale’s Respiratory Care Services team, began the implementation of a non-invasive ventilation technique for Raelynn called bubble CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). Pressurized oxygen is humidified through an underwater tube that uses the bubble system to help inflate the lungs and reduce the work of breathing.
“She was our first patient with it and did very well,” said Dr. Davidson. “When children have lung disease as a newborn, the prognosis is usually pretty good because of their natural ability to regenerate lung tissue and, coupled with providing adequate nutrition for a baby like Raelynn, valuable calories will now go to growth and repair instead of the constant work of breathing.”
With this added energy, her multidisciplinary team was able to expand to include physical and occupational therapists. Raelynn was able to participate in therapies to strengthen her muscles and eyes, improve her range of motion and become a more actively engaged baby.
Due to her dramatic recovery, Raelynn was weaned off bubble CPAP after one week of the treatment.
“Our program stands out because we’re able to take ICU kids that are stable enough and wean them,” said Keith Llewellyn, Blythedale’s Director of Respiratory Care Services.
“This Hospital is on the forefront of respiratory therapy because we have the time, we have the patience and we have know-how to get it done.”
After 27-days of treatments and therapies for Raelynn at Blythedale, plus extensive education and training for her parents, the baby girl was able to go home for the first time.
“I am excited and a little anxious but so glad this day has come,” said Raveen. “It’s been a great experience being here.”