Surgery saves newborn baby’s life

The mother of a premature baby who underwent a ground-breaking surgery at Tygerberg Hospital to save his life said this week her son was recovering well at home.

Ruzaine Hermanus, of Blue Downs, was worried when her son, Wyatt, underwent the procedure earlier this year.

“We were concerned, and we hoped everything would work out fine,” she said.

But Wyatt has made a strong recovery, and he returned home on Tuesday July 26.

Soon after Wyatt was born two weeks’ premature and weighing about 2kg, on Friday March 24, he developed numerous medical conditions including severe narrowing of one of his airways due to lung disease.

This trapped air in the tissue outside the tubes and air sacs of the lungs.

Professor Pierre Goussard, Tygerberg’s head of paediatric pulmonology and paediatric intensive care, and his team used a balloon dilation to save Wyatt’s life, cracking a medical first in South Africa in the process.

Nowhere in the country has the procedure been performed on such a small patient, up until now.

The balloon dilation uses a catheter with an inflatable balloon to widen the lung.

“The widening of the lung would assist the patient in breathing better, which was crucial in order for him to survive,” said Professor Goussard.

“Under anaesthesia, a guidewire was inserted into the airway and then a balloon over the guidewire.

“A contrast was injected to see the length of narrowing of the airway. A balloon was inflated to twice the normal car tyre pressure.”

Approximately 15 million babies are born prematurely each year accounting for more than one in 10 of all babies born worldwide.

They require intensive care for many weeks and months, impacting on hospital resources, but many are able to live fulfilled lives.