Earlier this year, the BBC were given unique access to the neonatal unit at University Hospital Wishaw in Scotland. Babies born prematurely, multiple births, and those with rare medical conditions are among over a thousand cases admitted to the unit every year. These babies and their parents can spend months here and go on an incredible journey.
Charlie was born at just 23 weeks – almost the earliest a baby can be kept alive. His eyes hadn’t opened yet, his skin had not yet formed a protective barrier and his lungs were only half grown. Charlie’s lungs were forced to work nearly 4 months before they were ready. Charlie couldn’t breathe without a ventilator providing pressure and air to his lungs. For his parents it was an emotional rollercoaster, but despite the odds, Charlie proved to be a fighter.
Neonatal ventilation poses real challenges to neonatologists and caregivers. Premature infants are very fragile and have underdeveloped respiratory systems that require very small tidal volumes. Therefore, precision and reliability are crucial.
We were pleased to see that with the help of an SLE5000 infant ventilator Charlie was able to fight his difficult start in life. He eventually managed to develop and strengthen his lungs to the stage that he was able to breath on his own.
Medical advances mean that we are getting better at treating preterm babies, but the chances of survival still depend on gestational age (week of pregnancy) at the time of birth.
In the busy NICU, medical and nursing staff need a ventilator that provides them with all the tools they need to treat their most challenging patients. The SLE5000 and now the new SLE6000 infant ventilators are the result of years of experience in the field of neonatal ventilation and were designed with all this experience in mind.