Tue | Aug 14, 2018

One-pound miracle - Tiny premie Aaron defies medical expectations

Published:Monday | August 8, 2016 | 12:57 AM
From left: Head of the paediatric unit at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, Dr Garfield Badal; paediatric surgeons, Dr Karen Dunbar and Holly Neville, receive assistance from operating theatre nurse Janet Sewell.
Baby Aaron in the operating theatre.


Lashaine Hutchinson was advised against buying clothes for her one pound two ounce baby, whose likelihood of survival was almost zero.

It has been three months since the birth of her micro-premie son, Aaron Forrest, and Hutchinson was given further hope two weekends ago when doctors at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in collaboration with one of their colleagues from the respected Jackson Memorial in Miami, Florida, successfully performed an exploratory surgical procedure.

“A baby this size has never survived in Jamaica, however, when I worked at Jackson I saw many babies survive the condition,” said neonatologist Dr Shelley Drummond, who called on her friend Dr Holly Neville, a respected paediatric surgeon.

“I worked with Dr Neville before and she is amazing. If my baby needed surgery, this is who I would call,” said Drummond, placing her stamp of approval on the reputation of the paediatric surgeon who paid her own way to Jamaica.

For over two and a half hours, the doctors - Garfield Badal, head of surgery at CRH; Karen Dunbar, paediatric surgeon; Derek Harvey, anaesthesiologist; Neville and operating theatre nurse Janet Sewell and worked on an intestinal resection bowel blockage with which the baby born at six months was suffering.

“It was a very difficult operation, because the baby had dense scarring inside the abdomen, because of necrotising enterocolitis, which is a risk that premature babies face,” said Neville.

It took twice the time to do the operation, said the doctors, and the usual five to seven days recovery period.

A similar operation in the US would run over US$50,000 (J$6.3 million), and that amount does not include hospital stay and medicine.

Neville received assistance from Sandals Resorts, which provided accommodation and Ethicon Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson.

For the first two months after birth,  baby Aaron was OK, except for complications related to prematurity, said Drummond. "However, in the last month he developed abdominal issues and had to be fed via the veins, instead of the mouth.

Lauding the parents of baby Aaron for their dedication and commitment, Dunbar revealed that, like mentally challenged individuals who are often abandoned by their relatives, when babies are born as tiny as Aaron, the mothers tend to detach themselves in the event the child dies.

“Not so with Miss Hutchinson. This mom comes to the hospital every day and the father comes regularly too.”

It comes as no surprise, because Hutchinson, said that not once has she given up hope.

“When the baby was born, I was told he may live for four days, so I was not to buy any clothes. After I saw that the four days had passed I kept praying. I went to my pastors and asked the Church to pray with me as well,” said the mother of three.

The doctors refused to give up as well. In fact, Drummond, who has been treating baby Aaron since birth, was pleased with his weight gain.

“He is super tiny, only 2.2 lbs now, but that means he has doubled his weight at birth,” she stated.

The doctors admit that there was a time they would never resuscitate and maintain a baby weighing less than 600 grammes.

“However, with expert training and advancement in neonatal care, it has allowed us to do this,” said Dr Badal. He noted that CRH was well poised in that regard.

Hutchinson was very happy, but continued to pray until her son leaves the hospital.

“He has to put on a certain amount of weight and must be able to breathe on his own before he can leave the hospital.”