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10 yrs after it helped H1N1 patients, ‘bubble of hope’ comes to aid of babies with Covid

Till now, of the 21 newborns and babies diagnosed with Covid-19 at the hospital, 14 have been discharged, including an 11-day-old infant.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Updated: June 9, 2020 1:20:11 pm
covid, swine flu, babies coronavirus pune Of 21 babies with Covid-19, 14 have recovered. Express photo

Ten years ago, Dr Aarti Kinikar, a paediatrician at B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital, had used a saline bottle, an IV set and a paediatric nasal cannula to save the lives of children who were sick with the swine flu (H1N1) during the epidemic, which had hit Pune the most.

She had called them ‘bubbles of hope’ as this indigenous invention of a nasal bubble continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) functioned as a mini ventilator at the government hospital’s paediatric ICU.

Now, as the city fights against the Covid-19 pandemic, Kinikar and her team of resident doctors are using the technology to keep newborns and babies, infected with the virus, oxygenated in the paediatric ICU.


Till now, of the 21 newborns and babies diagnosed with Covid-19 at the hospital, 14 have been discharged, including an 11-day-old infant. One of the babies was a nine-month-old boy, who recovered from Covid-19 and was discharged from Sassoon General Hospital on Monday. He had tested positive for the virus while his parents tested negative.

According to authorities at Sassoon General Hospital, one of the visitors at their home may have transmitted the virus to the infant, for whom the use of the Nasal Bubble CPAP came as a lifesaver.

The baby’s cytokine storm markers were high, and he also had a rare combination of both severe sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia. His haemoglobin count, at 3.1 gm per cent, was also low. He had been brought in with septic shock and hematuria.

The baby had multiple complications and needed resuscitation. While treating the baby, doctors also diagnosed that he suffered from thalassaemia and needed multiple blood transfusions, said Sassoon authorities.

“The team of resident doctors at the paediatric ICU looked after the baby 24/7,” Dr Kinikar, who is also the head of the paediatrics department at B J Medical College, told The Indian Express.

The technology works on the principle that bubbles formed in the saline bottle exert continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) via the nasal cannula. This keeps the air sac in the lungs open and well oxygenated. “This means that we did not have to intubate the child or put the newborn on invasive ventilation,” said Dr Kinikar.

The paediatric ICU has seen two deaths — both babies were extremely critical, one had chronic kidney disease and the other’s haemoglobin count was very low — and it has helped 19 babies recover, of which 14 have been discharged.

At Bharati Hospital, more than 15 ventilated patients recover

A 60-year-old resident of NIBM Road, who had no Covid-19 symptoms, suffered from vomiting and loose motions. He tested positive when his son admitted him to Bharati Hospital, a dedicated Covid hospital. “My father was diabetic and was admitted on May 23.

His oxygen saturation levels deteriorated… he was on ventilator support for 10 days. Dr Prashant Jedge and his team really helped my father and it is nothing short of a miracle that my father is alive today,” said his emotional son.

Dr Sanjay Lalwani, medical director at Bharati Hospital, said more than 15 persons with co- morbidities, who were on ventilator support, have recovered and been discharged.

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