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Premature baby stable, on watch

mumbai Updated: Jan 16, 2010 00:47 IST
Neha Bhayana

Baby ‘Appu’, born prematurely on December 23, 2009, after only 23 weeks in the womb, is stable but continued to be in the neo-natal intensive care unit (ICU) at Holy Family Hospital, Bandra, on Friday.

The 825-gram baby was put on oxygen support on Thursday after his condition suddenly deteriorated. His health improved on Friday. “Doctors have stopped oxygen supply. He is breathing on his own now,” said Appu’s father, Amar Patil.

Neonatologist Dr Chetan Shetty said Appu would have to be monitored for two to three weeks before they can declare him ‘out of danger’.

Appu’s mother, Sarita (30), delivered twins at Omkar Hospital, Kandivli on December 23. The doctors put Appu’s twin on the sole available ventilator in the clinic, as he was the weaker one but he died in a day.

The Patils spent seven hours contacting hospitals before they found a ventilator for Appu at Holy Family Hospital. The delay could have cost Appu’s life.

This case reveals that many hospitals, especially smaller ones like the 18-bed Omkar Hospital, are ill equipped to deal with emergencies. Newborns need specially designed ventilators, which control oxygen flow to prevent damage to their lungs.

Doctors questioned the decision taken by Sarita’s gynaecologist to conduct the pre-term delivery at a hospital, which did not have a neo-natal ICU. “This was a high-risk and complicated delivery. It should have been referred to a bigger hospital which has paediatric ventilators,” said Dr Lalit Kapoor, who heads the Association of Medical Consultants.

Sarita’s gynaecologist, Dr Prittika Moge, defended her decision saying they had clearly said Omkar is a “surgical and maternity hospital” only. “Small hospitals like ours cannot have all kinds of specialisations.”

Activists have been demanding stringent regulations for private nursing homes. “We had conducted a survey of 261 nursing homes in the state and found that a majority of them are ill-equipped and don’t have ambulance or trained staff for emergencies,” said Padma Deosthali from non-governmental organisation CEHAT.

The state government had amended the Bombay Nursing Home Registration Act in 2006 but it did not lay down any minimum standards.