Premature Newborns Have the Best Chance for Survival at St. Damien
Learn about the extensive range of care St. Damien Hospital provides to prematurely born babies.
April 10, 2019 - Haiti
Silvain Eugenie, a 42-year-old mother from southern Haiti, has two children: an 11-year old boy and a little girl named Sofia.
On 12 January 2019, Silvain woke up with abdominal pain, so she went to a nearby clinic and had an ultrasound. Her doctor had estimated her due date to be March 29 for the birth of her child. But, for Silvain, this pain did not seem to come from the pregnancy. Along with the abdominal pain, she had headaches and high blood pressure.
Her doctor quickly worked to get Silvain admitted to a hospital; she was transferred four times to different facilities before arriving to NPH Haiti’s St. Damien Pediatric Hospital. It was a relief when she was finally admitted to the Rita Merli high-risk pregnancy program.
She shares more about what happened upon arrival. “When I got to St. Damien, I was welcomed by the security guards, who led me to the maternity ward. Two nurses met me there and began to ask about my situation and pregnancy. I told them I had been pregnant for six months and two weeks. The nurses explained that I did not look like I was in good shape and admitted me immediately. After being assigned a bed, I met my midwife who looked after me and assisted me for the six days I was there. Eventually I had to have a cesarean section and needed blood transfusions after surgery. I am thankful to the staff in the maternity program and I am thankful that I am still alive today.”
Silvain’s baby, Sofia, was born after 35 weeks, weighing just 2.7 pounds (1240 grams). She was immediately admitted for respiratory care; she was neither crying nor breathing well. The hospital staff transferred her to the neonatology ward for special care.
According to Dr. Lindsay of St. Damien, when a newborn arrives to the ward prematurely, vital signs are taken and the child is given oxygen, an IV, caffeine (for babies born after less than 32 weeks gestation), and antibiotics. Nurses administer a variety of lab tests (CBC, platelet counts, blood type, blood sugar, etc.) and the newborn is placed in an incubator.
After 12 days in the neonatology ward, little Sofia was moved to ‘Kangaroo Care’ with her mother for five days, but eventually returned to the neonatology ward as her conditioned returned to critical. According to Dr. Lindsay, her situation remains series, but she is slowly starting to improve. She will remain in St. Damien’s special care until she has gained weight and reached other milestones. When Sofia is eventually discharged, St. Damien will continue to follow up with Silvain, as we do with all mothers, to ensure that Sofia remains healthy as she adjusts to life outside of the hospital.
We continue to check on babies born prematurely after they leave the hospital. For a full year, we counsel the parents and refer them to experts, like the NPH Haiti ophthalmologist and other therapists, if needed. Mothers and fathers are also given educational training and resources to best ensure that they are ready to care for their small, newborn babies.
Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.