There are numerous illnesses that are too difficult to treat with conventional medicine. What should doctors do in these cases? One new situation shows the importance of having doctors who can think outside the box.

CBS news reports on an innovative group of doctors who used new medicine to save a baby’s life. They decided to make a bold move and use a medicine that is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

What was the baby suffering from?

The parents of a newborn baby were deeply distraught after finding out that their child is seriously ill. The baby was born in critical condition. When the baby was born, physicians quickly discovered that the baby had inhaled meconium. This is amniotic fluid mixed with her stool, which caused her lungs to collapse.

How dire was the situation?

The parents were told their new baby girl, Tatiana, might not even survive the ambulance ride to the children's hospital where she was transferred to receive specialized treatment.

The medical team knew they had to act fast. The baby’s physicians put her on an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine, which kept her heart and lungs going for around a month. But because the infant's lungs were still in the developmental stage, doctors were not sure she could last without the aid of the machine.

The baby’s parents were told that she might not survive. They were adamant about fighting for her, saying that if she is fighting for her life then they must fight for her as well. It was clear to them that if she was taken off the machine then she would quickly go.

Doctors then decided to think outside the box.

“Doctors then made a last ditch effort to help Tatiana survive, when they obtained a waiver to use a drug known as perflubron. The drug is an oxygen-rich liquid that fills and expands the lungs then evaporates. It was tested on adults in the 1990s but was scrapped after manufacturers found it did not provide enough benefit as a liquid ventilator. Though perflubron isn't approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is available in Canada and Europe,” according to CBS.

Did things get better?

The drug actually did not work right away, and the baby’s parents were told once again to prepare for her the possibility of her dying. But perhaps by a miracle or the medical team’s innovative methods, they began to see improvements and the baby started breathing on her own.

The drug is still not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But because of the way the drug helped save baby Tatiana’s life, more and more people are lobbying for its approval and authorization.

The baby’s mother told CBS news, “If it was not for that drug then there would be nothing left to do for her. The gift of having her home is the only gift we wanted this Christmas.”


Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer
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