Two months ago today, on April 11th, we posted on Facebook about the arrival of a new baby at our Beijing Infant Care Home. What may have struck you about the photo is the size of that baby--you can see he was not much bigger than our staff's hands! Even the tiny preemie clothes were way too big for him.
At 810 grams, or about 1 pound, 13 oz, he was even smaller than most of the little preemies that we come across.
This baby came from a new orphanage we just started working with a few weeks ago. They called us about a newborn that was very weak and small, and just three days old. Lily, one of our Senior Infant Care managers, promptly took a train out to see the baby personally. When she got there, he was in an incubator and on oxygen and an IV. But the hospital was very small and unequipped to deal with such a small and fragile preemie. It was then that the weighing of the pros and cons commenced--an all too familiar situation for many of our medical staff, who are called upon to make these kinds of decisions every day.
If we left him there at the small local hospital, there was a good chance he would not survive, but the travel on the train ride was also a risk. Lily called our staff back in Beijing to discuss the situation.
One thing Lily did to help us make the decision was take him out of the incubator and watch him in the hospital for several hours. She wanted to see if he could maintain his O2 sats without any help. After several hours of observation, removed from all medical support, she saw that he was stable and felt more confident that she could take him on the train. Had he not done well, or if his O2 sats were dropping or unstable, she might have decided not to risk it. But ultimately, it was decided that bringing him to Beijing would ultimately be his best chance.
Lily gathered up the baby and brought him to the train station. She kangaroo'd him on the entire nine hour train ride back to Beijing (read more about Kangaroo Care here), which helped to regulate his body temperature and keep him warm. During the trip, she gave him very small amounts (2 ml at a time) of milk by feeding tube.
When she arrived in Beijing, we took Dian immediately to the hospital to be stabilized. Plus, Lily could tell by then that he was having trouble digesting those small amounts of milk, from the little feedings on the train. We knew that he could not tolerate oral feeds yet. The only option was to feed by IV (TPN) and start oral feeds very gradually.
It's pretty apparent that this one is a fighter. After just a week and a half, he was up from 810 g to 1020 g (2 lbs 4 oz.)! He stayed in the hospital for a while more, but has since come home.
He's now in our Beijing Infant Care Home's preemie unit, and we hope to see him growing bigger and stronger as time goes by.
Just look at him today!
He's got a long way to go yet, but it's been amazing to see such a dramatic change in a relatively short period of time--just two months!