Thursday, July 19, 2012

Motherless Twins Leave the Premature Unit

On July 18th, a pair of motherless twins, a boy and a girl, were released from Rambam's Neonatal Intensive Care Department. Even the department's senior nurses - who have seen it all - wept, as the twins' story is truly unique.

For close to ten years, the twins' mother had tried to get pregnant. The woman, who had married young, began fertility treatment. To her and her husband's delight, she became pregnant. At the beginning of her seventh month of pregnancy, the catastrophe began. The young woman started suffering from unexplained breathing difficulties, and arrived at the Department of Emergency and Urgent Care Medicine at Rambam. Her examination revealed a painful picture - a tumor in her lungs. The young woman was sent for further testing, which showed, to her doctors' sorrow, growths that had spread throughout her lungs and metastasized to her liver.

From this point, the situation rapidly deteriorated. In her 31st week of pregnancy, the woman was rushed in for an emergency Caesarean section, which would allow her to begin chemotherapy in a desperate effort to halt her illness. The woman did not successfully make it through surgery, however, and was rendered unconsciousness and in need of respiration. At the Intensive Care Unit, doctors made every effort to return her to consciousness. "The mother had to be respirated because her lungs had collapsed," explained Mirit Barzilai, a nurse from the unit. "Nevertheless, we succeeded in returning her to consciousness for a short period. We told her the twins had been born healthy and everything was all right. Because of the respirator, she couldn't talk, but she started to cry. Soon after, we had to anaesthetize her again."

Meanwhile, the twins, who had been delivered by C-section six weeks earlier, were transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Department. The mother, still unconscious and respirated, began to receive chemotherapy at the Intensive Care Unit. The new father ran between departments from his infants to his wife. Ten days after the operation, the young mother died.

In an unorthodox move, Professor Shraga Blazer, director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Department at Rambam, asked the twins' grandparents to enter the department and help out with the infants: "I understood that the grandparents would have to learn once again how to take care of little babies, but there was no choice, as the father had to return to work," says Prof. Blazer.

Currently, Rambam's premature unit is especially busy, with triplets, several pairs of twins and other infants, resulting in a 20% increase in the number of premature babies being treated. In spite of their numerous new patients and full schedules, senior nurses at the unit say they will remember the twins for years to come.

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