Children Alive Due Children's National Hospital

12:14 PM, Oct 14, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Childbirth can be the most enjoyable moment in a family's life, but for some parents it's the most terrifying.

For some newborns, entering the world can be a battle to try to stay alive.

Susan Johnson knows how life can be fleeting.

"I just remember being really scared. Doctors took steps to revive her and stabilize her."

Her daughter Madeline was deprived of oxygen, her life slipping away. But with new technology at the time and quick thinking doctors, they were able to save her.

In 2006, 'cooling therapy' was a fairly new concept and something adopted at Children's National Hospital in Northwest.

Doctors were able to reduce her body temperature, avoid further swelling and brain damage.

"It's sort of like putting ice on your ankle when you sprain it. It's trying to minimize the swelling in the brain, reduces metabolic rate so it doesn't have to work as hard and has anti-seizure properties," said Dr. Tae Chang, the Neonatal Neuro Critical Care Director at the hospital.

It's a critical procedure in the first 6 hours of life. For the next two weeks, Madeline would be hooked up to monitors, tubes and around the clock care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children's National Hospital.

Five years later Madeline is a bright, beautiful little girl.

Doctors may not always know what causes brain damage at birth or other complications such as low oxygen levels and blood flow but they do know how to give these babies a better chance at survival.

Children's National has saved more than 200 children and some of them returned to the hospital Saturday afternoon to be reunited with the doctors who saved them at a 'cool kids reunion.'

"Even for those who have disabilities such as Madeline they have the best disposition ever. Despite their disability they can live a full life and it's looking beyond their disabilities. This is why we do what we do," said Dr. Chang.

There are roughly 8 out of 1-thousand babies born with complications of brain injuries from low oxygen and blood flow in the United States each year, according to Dr. Chang.

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