herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Little Oscar sleeps through as Leo Varadkar opens €6m baby unit

Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar pictured with Deborah Larkin from Arklow and her 9 week old son, Oscar who was born on 21st December (the last baby to be born in the old unit) pictured at the opening of a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Holles Street
Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar pictured with Deborah Larkin from Arklow and her 9 week old son, Oscar who was born on 21st December (the last baby to be born in the old unit) pictured at the opening of a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Holles Street
Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar scrubbing down pictured with Prof. Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street pictured at the opening of a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Holles Street

ThE tiny baby in Health Minister Leo Varadkar’s hands is Oscar Nolan, who weighed only two pounds at birth.

Two months later he weighs five pounds, thanks to the care he received while at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street.

Proud mum Deborah and partner Paul, from Arklow, Co Wicklow, were yesterday getting ready to take Oscar home for the first time after he was nursed to good health.

sickest

But before he left Holles Street, he got to meet Mr Varadkar, who was on hand yesterday to open a €6m neonatal intensive care unit.

Oscar surprised Deborah and Paul by arriving into the world at 28 weeks a few days before Christmas.

He is among a growing army of little miracles who benefit from modern neonatal care.

Mr Varadkar said the new unit would care for some of the sickest infants and most complex cases from across Ireland.

He said the facility was funded with a substantial investment, and it offers a wide range of services including a central station for monitoring babies, vital equipment, dedicated isolation rooms and double clinical space around each incubator.

Mr Varadkar said the unit was essential, and came despite plans to move the hospital

to the site of St Vincent’s.

“Thirty years ago most of the children who would have gone to this unit would have died,” he said.

“Now the vast majority survive, and it is important we have as modern an infrastructure as possible.”

The Master of Holles Street, Dr Rhona Mahony, described the previous facilities as cramped and “under the eaves”.

“This new unit represents a significant step forward in the quality of care and services we can offer to families attending the hospital,” she said.

Neonatologist Dr John Murphy said around 10 babies from around the country are transferred to the unit every week.

The most premature could be 24 weeks and the smallest a mere 1lb 2ozs.

survival

“It’s the prematurity rather than the weight that is the issue. The survival rate is going up and up. Once you get to 28 weeks you get to a 90pc survival rate,” said Dr Murphy.

“Its due to a combination of antenatal care, the quality of resuscitation they get, the quality of the oxygen and support and all that intravenous feeding.”

Nearly 10,000 babies are born at Holles Street every year.

The hospital also provides treatment for critically ill babies who are transported there from other hospitals.

fdillon@herald.ie

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