New Delhi: Amidst the gloom and doom of the pandemic, here’s a story of hope and positivity – a month-old baby girl from Hyderabad defeated the deadly virus and returned home. One of the youngest COVID survivors, the baby weighed just 1000 grams at birth and contracted the coronavirus infection. Her discharge from hospital and journey home was nothing less of a miracle for her parents Rahul and Balamounika.
Last month on April 17, when the baby girl was born preterm in the 28th week, her mother was still on ventilator battling COVID. In the second week of birth, the baby tested positive for SARS-COV2 and had to be put in the Neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), on ventilator, where nurses played the role of her foster mother.
NDTV spoke to Dr C Aparna, Clinical Director – Neonatology and Senior Consultant Neonatology and Pediatrics, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences to understand the challenges faced by the team of doctors in managing the youngest COVID-19 patient. Dr Aparna said,
It was a definitely a very-very challenging task. One of the primary challenges was transportation of this baby from a different hospital to ours at a birth weight of just 920 grams and who was on ventilatory support. So, a team of doctors had to go and get the baby transported safely by taking all the personal protective equipments thereby managing and tracking oxygen saturation levels of the baby.
Further explaining the course of the treatment for the baby girl who recovered from COVID-19 in 30 days, Dr Aparna added,
When the baby tested positive, she was shifted to NICU isolation, and she was there for around 8 to 10 days. There the baby was managed via nasal ventilatory support. During this time as well, baby’s parameters had to be very carefully managed – all the staff members had to look after multiple things – prevention of any new infection, providing good nutrition, maintaining the oxygen saturation levels, blood pressure etc. Few days later, when the baby tested negative, we took her to the regular newborn ICU and continued monitoring for few days. We waited for few days so that the baby could reach optimal weight and her body could maintain temperature, breathing without additional medical help.
Dr Aparna says this journey of getting the baby back to her home has been very exciting. She said,
It was heartening to see baby show signs of recovery. It motivated us to work harder. It is definitely a challenging task to keep monitoring and being with the baby at all the times wearing PPE kits.
Talking about the challenging time of waiting for their baby to come to them, Rahul father of the new-born said,
It was a very difficult time, but we are happy that we have our baby now with us and she is in good health. When we were not able to see the baby personally, Dr Aparna made sure we connected virtually and saw our baby. That gave my wife the much-needed support. In fact, my wife was also asked to breast pump the milk and send it across to the hospital which was then feed to the baby by the nurses. We are very grateful to everyone at the hospital who worked so hard and got our baby back..
Further talking about the rate of COVID-19 infections in newborns at the time of deliveries, Dr Aparna, who has helped deliver 40 babies with COVID positive mothers said,
The good news is that none of the babies tested positive initially at the time of delivery, which means that the rate of transformation of the infection through the womb is very less. However, we have seen that newborns are testing positive in the second or third week after the delivery and the rate of post-natal transformations are slightly high. So far, we have not registered any mortality for babies who tested positive. However, COVID in pregnancies have been little challenging to manage. Although the government and formal bodies have not come up with recommendation for planning pregnancies at the time of pandemic, on a personal note, we as doctors believe that this won’t be a safe time to plan any future pregnancies. However, women who are pregnant at this time, for them the government has now said in their guidelines that it is safe for them as well to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
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NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.