Elly Lee gently runs her fingers over the head of her daughter Celine in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH).
Curled up in a warm cotton blanket, Celine sleeps soundly, unaware of the crowd that has gathered around her.
Born on Feb. 9, Celine came into the world via Caesarean section more than eight weeks premature and weighing just over 1,600 grams (3.5 pounds).
Lee felt “totally panicked” when she was unable provide enough breast milk for her daughter in the first few days.
And with Celine unable to feed on her own, the newborn had to be given her nutrition intravenously to help build her weight and strength.
In the past, food ingredients would have been mixed in minute amounts manually by hospital staff, which can be very time consuming. What’s more, having a nutrient measurement off by the slightest amount can be serious.
So with an ever-expanding number of premature babies being born at SMH, the hospital has borrowed a TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) Compounder (at left) to help mix infant food more quickly and with more accuracy.
Before TPN, a manual nutrient bag would have taken an hour to fill; with the TPN the same task can be completed in a matter of minutes.
After undergoing daily tests to determine the babies’ nutritional needs, the TPN Compounder uses a computer and a highly calibrated pump to mix the exact nutrients the baby will need, including protein, sugar, electrolytes and vitamins.
The TPN Compounder also has multiple safety checks built into the process, including weight matches and a bar code scanner to ensure correct ingredients are being used.
SMH is currently using the machine on loan, however, the SMH Foundation is looking to purchase its own $170,000 machine. EWOS Canada has contributed a $25,000 donation to launch the fundraising effort.
The technology will eventually be located in the new pediatric pharmacy within the 48-bed neonatal care unit of the $512-million Critical Care Tower currently under construction at SMH.
Currently, more than 4,200 babies are born at the hospital annually, with 500 them premature and needing neonatal care. Forty-per-cent of those infants will rely upon the TPN technology.
“This year, nearly 200 fragile newborns in Surrey Memorial Hospital alone will need this to gain strength and health,” says SMH Foundation Chair Ron Knight. “The TPN Compounder will help Surrey’s babies as well as those from other Fraser Health hospitals.”
After receiving nutrients from TPN for nearly a week, tiny Celine Lee has reached 1,860 grams (more than four pounds), is doing well, and no longer needs the specialized machine.
For more information about the SMH Foundation, visit www.smhfoundation.com