Parents Trupti and Santosh Mhambrey can hold their seven-month-old daughter Sakshi, feel her normal breathing, see her tiny eyelids, and hold her without the fear of hurting her skin. This was not possible when Sakshi was born on May 5, after five months and 12 days of pregnancy, weighing 460 grams and measuring 30 centimeters, the length of a notebook. Doctors and her parents nursed the country’s reportedly most premature baby to 3.5 kgs.
The 37-year-old suffered severe bleeding three days before an urgent delivery at Surya Hospital in Santa Cruz.
When Sakshi was born, she had fused eyelids. Her lungs and bladder were underdeveloped. Her bones and skin were fragile. How a medical team managed to save the underdeveloped baby is a miracle.
“During delivery, there was 10 per cent chance of survival,” says Dr Bhupendra Awasthi, hospital’s director. In the first week after birth, weight reduced to 390 grams due to water loss. Normal weight should be over three kgs.
For first one hour, she was in an incubator, given immediate respiratory support, and administered surfactant medicine to clear passage for air in lungs.
“She had high risk of bleeding in brain even if she moved her head,” said neonatologist Hari Balasubramaniam.
A pad of cotton was put around her head for cushioning. Her body fluid was thinner causing faster dissipation. An umbilical line was inserted in a vein in her stomach for administering intravenous (IV) fluid.
Even that procedure was life threatening.
“Her skin would break at touch. It happened with her abdomen and upper limb skin when we tried inserting IV tube.
The tissues were visible and we thought several times that we may lose her,” said Subramaniam. Only one nurse, expert at handling babies, and two doctors were allowed to touch the baby. Even the parents were kept at bay.
Sakshi was on ventilator support for six weeks and received Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, for six weeks. Breast feeding was not possible until three months.
Only her heart, kidney and digestive system were developed at birth.
For bone formation, she was given calcium and phosphorous. According to Dr Nandkishor Kabra, director of NICU, 12 blood transfusions were required to improve haemoglobin count. “She had only 45 ml of blood in her,” the doctor said. Normal blood volume should be between 250-280 ml.
In September, Sakshi was discharged at 2.2 kgs. In the three months, with weekly checkups and a laser surgery, her eyelids have fully grown. Her weight is now 3.5 kgs. “We can breast feed her,” Trupti says.