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Brain-cooling gear appeal for sick tots

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Laura Collins and miracle baby Luan at the beach

Laura Collins and miracle baby Luan at the beach

Laura Collins and miracle baby Luan at the beach

A young mother has started a campaign for every maternity hospital to be equipped with special brain-cooling equipment after her miracle son defied a life-threatening birth condition.

Laura Collins launched the campaign as she vowed to work to ensure no other mother endures the ordeal she faced when her son, Luan, was born at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

Luan was born in December 2018 at UHL but was found to be suffering from a condition known as Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy or HIE.

It is a form of brain damage which occurs when a baby experiences reduced oxygen or blood supply before, during or even after the birth.

Heal

The primary treatment for HIE is known as brain cooling, which allows the infant's brain time to heal and recover.

However, UHL is not equipped with such facilities.

In fact, only four Irish maternity hospitals - three in Dublin and one in Cork - have such brain-cooling facilities.

Luan had to be taken from his mother and rushed to Cork University Maternity Hospital.

Even the ambulance which brought Luan from Limerick to Cork had to be urgently dispatched from Dublin as it required specialist equipment.

Laura felt "totally helpless" as she waited for the ambulance to arrive to help save her son.

"I couldn't hold my baby and just be there with him," she said.

Thanks to the skill of surgeons in Limerick and Cork, Luan made a full recovery and is now a happy, healthy and rambunctious toddler.

So-called brain cooling involves placing the baby on a special blanket and bringing down their temperature to between 33C and 34C.

Thereafter, the baby's temperature is gradually increased to normal body temperature over a 6 to 12-hour period.

Critically, this treatment should start within six hours of birth and can last for three days.

It is the only medical intervention to help reduce brain damage for newborns. Laura launched her campaign in thanks for her son's life.