New hi-tech ventilators at Lee Children's Hospital aid premature babies

Corey Perrine/Staff 
 Tiera Marion looks on at her 12 day-old premie son, Braylon Seabrook, Jr. Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at The Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers. The medical center recently introduced a Neurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist (NAVA) machine. The device helps premature babies breathe better. Unlike traditional respiratory machines, it can adjust to patients' breathing patterns i.e. deeper breaths, shorter breaths etc. as opposed to constant breathing rates decided by the machine.

Photo by COREY PERRINE, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

Corey Perrine/Staff Tiera Marion looks on at her 12 day-old premie son, Braylon Seabrook, Jr. Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at The Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers. The medical center recently introduced a Neurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist (NAVA) machine. The device helps premature babies breathe better. Unlike traditional respiratory machines, it can adjust to patients' breathing patterns i.e. deeper breaths, shorter breaths etc. as opposed to constant breathing rates decided by the machine.

— Tiera Marion peers through the incubator at her 6-week-old son, Braylon. His tiny chest moves up and down with each breath.

Born prematurely at 1 pound, 15 ounces, he's been fighting for his life with the help of the latest technology in respirators.

"He is breathing a little bit on his own," she said, grateful that he now weighs 2 pounds, 15 ounces. She hopes he can come home in mid-September, when her due date was before she went into labor six months into the pregnancy.

The Children's Hospital at HealthPark, part of the Lee Memorial Health System, invested in the newest ventilators to make premature babies more comfortable and reduce the risk of infection.

"It synchronizes with the patient much better than conventional ventilators," said Dr. Kultar Singh, a neonatologist on staff of the children's hospital. "It's a very promising thing. It has a huge potential."

The new ventilator, made by the Swedish company, Maquet, has an enhanced sensory system to coordinate better with the baby's breathing.

The Children's Hospital at HealthPark, part of the Lee Memorial Health System, invested in the newest ventilators to make premature babies more comfortable and reduce the risk of infection.

"So this ventilator gives the breath with the patient, not before, not after, with the patient," Singh said.

Conventional ventilators aren't timed as well with a baby's breathing pattern and work a few microseconds after a breath is taken, which means the baby may resist the ventilator's assistance. For adults, that's no big deal.

"Babies breathe much faster, 50 to 60 times a minute, so every microsecond matters," Singh said.

Another plus is the new system can quantify how strong each breath is and offer an oxygen boost when needed, he said.

The end result is the baby is more comfortable, and the machine allows doctors and nurses to watch the diaphragm on a monitor.

The children's hospital invested in the technology a few months ago, and Singh said he doesn't believe children's hospitals in Tampa or Miami have acquired them yet.

"Many centers are looking into this," he said.

What's not clear yet from studies is whether the babies do better with the new ventilators to enable them to go home earlier than what's likely with a conventional machine.

"I don't know, but maybe," Singh said. "The data supports that short-term results are better and we think they are much more comfortable. I'm hoping they go home sooner. Psychologically, it makes more sense."

Marion, 28, is a student at Edison State College who wants to become a respiratory therapist. She made that decision last year, before she got pregnant with Braylon. She would work with children or adults as a respiratory therapist after she graduates.

"Any age group because I'm a medical assistant right now and I've worked with both, babies and adults. I like them all," Marion said.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features