First ECMO transfer a lifesaving success

Within the first 24 hours of Hayden’s life, his parents, Laura and Graham, were told to prepare for the worst. But with a team of doctors and nurses rallied behind him, Hayden not only survived, but came out the other side thriving.

Born with a previously undetected heart condition, Hayden's arrival into the world was anything but smooth. He became extremely unwell very quickly, taking both his parents and his local hospital in Canberra by surprise. Within seconds of the umbilical cord being cut, Hayden could no longer breathe on his own and relied entirely on medical intervention and medication just to keep him alive.

Hayden was in need of urgent medical care - care that was only available a state away. Distance was no barrier though for the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at The Children's Hospital at Westmead or the Newborn & paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS), who moved mountains to save Hayden's life.

After determining it was Hayden's heart that was making him so sick, a PICU team and NETS team were dispatched to Canberra for Hayden's urgent retrieval.

This wasn't a straight-forward procedure though.

Hayden's tiny body was too fragile to be transferred on his own.

His only hope was to be placed on ECMO before his transfer - a procedure that has never before been done on a NETS neonatal retrieval.

ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) is a complex and and highly specialised machine that takes over the role of the heart and lungs, pumping blood out of the body, giving it oxygen, then gently circulating it back. This delicate operation relied on the collaboration of the perfusionists, cardiac surgeons, intensivists and nurses from PICU and the specialist team from NETS.

Without this highly-skilled, collaborative team Hayden would not have survived.

Hayden was just one-day-old when he arrived safely at The Children's Hospital at Westmead and was diagnosed with Total Anomalous Pulmonary venous return (TAPVR), a rare congenital malformation in which all four pulmonary veins do not connect normally to the left atrium.

Two days later, Hayden underwent surgery to correct the defect, and while initial recovery was slow, he has since come leaps and bounds, continuing to surprise everyone with his progress. He has been able to come off all forms of ventilation, has been able to breastfeed on his own and now, at four weeks old, has been able to go home, just in time to spend his first Easter with his family.