Dealing with the Complexities of Neonatal Care

Our Neonatal doctors and nurses not only treat a growing number of newborn infants, but also handle extremely complex cases. Consider the case of Airnoy Touy.

She was only eight hours old when her parents rushed her to LFHC. She was born with gastroschisis, a condition in which an infant’s intestine and sometimes other stomach contents grow on the outside of its tiny body.

The chances of an infant surviving this condition in northern Laos were nil – until the opening of our Neonatal Unit. Our doctors and their colleagues at the adjacent provincial hospital have now successfully treated five infants with gastroschisis.

During the operation on Airnoy Touy, the surgeons placed a sterile glove over her intestines and secured it in place with one of our staff member’s rubber bracelets. They then hung the glove above the baby, waiting for the intestines’ swelling to decrease so they will gradually move back into the abdomen. Of course, this was a new procedure and there was some trial and error as our staff tried to make do with what they had in the absence of the technology available in a developed country.

The tiny patient required intravenous infusions of glucose, sodium and potassium and morphine for pain management. Nutrition was a big challenge as she was unable to breastfeed. The staff obtained artificial nutrition to give to her intravenously. Over the course of her admission she required several operations to replace the glove and slowly reduce her bowel.

Airnoy Touy proved to be a true fighter, with her will to live and endless love from her parents. From the lows of further operations to the highs of her first breastfeed, she was a neonate who truly found her way into the hearts of the staff that cared for her. She was discharged after two months in hospital.