Service With A Heart: The Tiniest Of Lives

thomas-cunningham-in-operating-room

November 2006 will be a month that I will never forget.

For many years as an operating room nurse, I comforted the crying eyes of a child as I held them and walked away from their mothers and fathers, but this patient was very different from any of my pediatric surgical patients. My patient wasn’t a newborn, a toddler or a child. My patients were two unborn children carried within their mother’s womb. Two lives that have never felt the touch of their mother’s hands, the love of their father, or have ever seen the light of day. Two of the tiniest lives that were fighting for their very existence within their mother’s womb with a lethal condition called twin-twin transfusion syndrome.

Our team wheeled the expectant mother into the operating room. The operating room was full of people waiting to catch a glimpse of our unborn patients. I had set up my sterile operating room table and had all the necessary supplies and equipment that would be able to help these two unborn patients. Before surgery began, I reached out to the mother’s hand and said the only thing I could think to say, “We are going to take care of your babies.” With a nervous look on her face she smiled at me and said nothing. Full Entry »

11 Comments
Posted in Fetal Center, Nursing, Parenting, Pavilion for Women, Surgery Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The Human Touch In Medicine

The memory of that day remains vivid even today. My wife and I sat nervously in the waiting room, while our 2-month-old son underwent neurosurgery for craniosynostosis. It was the longest 4 hours of our lives, and impacted the way I’ll practice medicine forever.

Although well informed about the diagnosis, treatments and outcomes, the lack of control was killing me. Our first child had always been with at least one of us — and never out of our sight. Now, at 2 months old, I had left him in the OR with complete strangers and unable to know what was happening second to second.

And then suddenly, the double doors opened and out came a bed.

There was a small being, asleep, with a swollen face, and a massive head dressing with a yellow ribbon. My wife instantly called out his name and knew it was our son. Full Entry »

1 Comment
Posted in Community, Fetal Center, Intensive Care, Neurology, Parenting Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Donor Breast Milk Program Supports New Moms And Infants

It has been an exciting month for the Lactation and Milk Bank services at Texas Children’s Hospital. On August 9 we launched our first-ever donor breast milk program, asking local moms to donate their excess breast milk to help critically ill and premature babies in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) thrive. A great deal of work has
hosuton-milk-bank-219x300 gone into this new program and it’s great that we are now able to get the word out and find moms who want to help.

At Texas Children’s Hospital, we have long believed that breast milk is best for babies, especially for our tiniest patients. Studies conducted here as well as other centers have supported this belief. As a result, we have worked hard to follow a feeding protocol in our NICU where babies weighing less than three pounds are fed 100% breast milk (either mother’s own or donor milk). Strong scientific evidence has shown that NICU infants have fewer incidences of harmful, sometimes fatal, infections when they are fed only human milk.

As we prepare to move into Texas Children’s new Pavilion for Women and expand into maternity services, we anticipate our need for donor milk will be even greater. Right now, we use an average of 2,000 Full Entry »

4 Comments
Posted in Breastfeeding, Community, Motherhood, Nutrition, Parenting, Pavilion for Women Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Fetal Surgery Saves Lives Of Unborn Babies With Twin-To-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS)

twin-to-twin-transfusion
Helping twins is double the joy.

At the Fetal Center, we have been caring for patients diagnosed with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) since 2006. I have personally treated over 60 TTTS patients, including a mom this weekend who is expecting identical twin girls. The Martinez family came to us from Temple, TX, urgently referred to us by their maternal fetal medicine specialist. Madelyn, 25 weeks pregnant with Stage IV TTTS, came in on Friday and within 24 hours I was performing laser ablation to save her two little girls.

TTTS occurs in identical twins that share a placenta when an imbalance in the blood vessels causes one baby to receive too much nutrition while the other does not receive enough. Twenty years ago, the prognosis for babies suffering TTTS was grim. Thankfully, our ability to treat it has improved. In the past 10 years, a laser ablation procedure has proven very effective for stopping and reversing the effects TTTS has on unborn babies. With early detection and treatment, babies now have a 70-90% chance of survival. A huge achievement! Full Entry »

2 Comments
Posted in Fetal Center, Motherhood, Parenting, Pregnancy, Surgery Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Twins, Triplets And Quadruplets… Oh My!

Pregnant women carrying multiples are at higher risk and have different requirements when compared to those carrying a single fetus.

In November 2009, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published new guidelines regarding weight gain during pregnancy and provisional guidelines for women carrying multiple fetuses. The guidelines do not address women carrying triplets or more, but the provisional guidelines for women carrying twins are based on body mass index (BMI) and are as follows:

  • Women with a normal BMI should gain between 37 – 54 pounds
  • Women with a BMI in the overweight category should gain between 31 – 50 pounds
  • Women with a BMI in the obese category should gain between 25 – 42 pounds Full Entry »
2 Comments
Posted in Fetal Center, Motherhood, Pregnancy Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,