Science

To Save A Baby, Doctors Had To Freeze It

By Hilda Scott email: h.scott@itechpost.com , Feb 15, 2013 03:00 PM EST

A team of doctors in London, U.K. pulled off an amazing feat: giving a newborn named Edward a chance at life by freezing him for four days. Edward's mother, Claire Ives, who is a nurse, noticed that his heart was beating rapidly when she was in her 35th week of pregnancy. Tests confirmed that Edward had a rare fatal heart condition known as supra ventricular tachycardia (SVT) and had to be delivered immediately.

His chance of survival was just 5 percent, as the disease caused the infant's heart to race at a dangerous rate. Edward's heart was pumping double-time at 300 beats per minute at the time of his birth. A normal heart rate is 160 beats per minute. Thanks to treatment received at University College London Hospital, Edward's odds of survival were turned around in his favor. Doctors dropped Edward's core body temperature by almost 4 degrees Celsius.

To slow down his metabolism and prevent damage to his vital organs, Edward was carefully enclosed in a blanket of cold gel. The gel dropped his temperature from 37C (98.6) degrees C to 33.3C (91.94F). For the next 48 hours, Edward's temperature was raised carefully but when his heart rate went back up again, doctors brought his temperature back down for two more days.

"It was horrible to see him lying there freezing in nothing but a nappy. He was heavily sedated so didn't move much, and he was cold to touch; it looked like he was dead," said 29-year-old Ives to the U.K's Metro. "All I wanted to do was scoop him up and give him a warm cuddle. I just had to keep reminding myself that it was saving his life," she said. 

As part of the treatment, doctors used a defibrillator five times to shock Edward's body and force his heart to return to a normal beat. Medics slowly began to raise his temperature when his heart appeared to slow down to a normal rate. Edward's mother and her husband Phillip were allowed to take Edward home after one month of observation. "When I got him home, it felt like a dream come true," said Ives.

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