On Friday’s Morning Focus, we met Laura Collins from Sixmilebridge, who told us about the December 2018 birth of her son Luan.
Far from the happy, routine birth that she had hoped for, Laura found out after her son was born that he required a ‘baby cooling’ treatment to ward off potential brain damage. To get this, he had to be transferred, without being accompanied by his parents, to Cork University Hospital, which is one of four hospitals where the treatment is available. The other three are in Dublin.
Luan is now well, thankfully, but Laura and other campaigners want the treatment to be made available in more hospitals, including in Limerick. Laura spoke with Gavin, while they were also joined by fellow campaigner Carmel Finnegan.
The UL Hospitals Group issued this statement on the matter to Clare FM:
Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia (TH), referred to as ‘Baby Cooling’ is the recognised treatment for babies that have been clinically identified with hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE).
Therapeutic Hypothermia (TH) is administered in four maternity centres in Ireland (the National Maternity Hospital, Rotunda, Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital and Cork University Maternity Hospital).
All infants born in the Midwest requiring this treatment are transferred to one of these four centres within the timeframes for treatment as set out by international guidelines, which is 6 hours.
Passive cooling which involves turning off heat sources around the baby and the removal of the babies clothes commences at UMHL once the infant meets the cooling criteria. The National Neonatal retrieval service retrieves the baby or the baby is transferred by UMHL with the members of our neonatal team to the receiving hospital ensuring that the baby commences treatment in one of the four sites within the timeframe.
UMHL has had limited numbers of HIEs over the past three years: fewer than 5 per annum in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Evidence-based research recommends that the best outcome for babies requiring Therapeutic Hypothermia is by treating them in one of the specialist centres with relevant subspecialty supporting services