Her name is Cherry and she is the smallest baby ever born in India. At birth, she was just about 26 cms in length – that is about the size of your palm — and weighed 375 grams, making her perhaps the smallest not just in India but in the whole of South Asia. Normally, babies at birth weigh between 2.5 kg and 3 kg.
Cherry was born on February 27 and was kept in the hospital for 128 days after her birth, under a high-end incubator and ventilator at an advanced neonatal intensive care unit. She was finally discharged weighing 1.98 kg. She weighs 2.4 kg now.
According to Dr Dinesh Kumar Chirla, director, neonatology and Paediatric Intensive Care at Rainbow Children’s Hospital, where she was born, today 10 per cent of all deliveries in India run the risk of being premature. That is less than 37 weeks.
Cherry was born in 25 weeks and therefore womb-like conditions had to be created with right humidity and temperature because the skin was thin and there a was need to ensure body was adequately hydrated, informed Dr Ramesh Kancharla, founder, chairman and managing director of Rainbow
“In some cases, even 10 ml different in water levels can be enough to cause dehydration. That apart, the baby needs to be monitored constantly for brain growth, lung maturity, eyes, behaviour of the heart chambers and the heart development, intestines and all the other organs of the body,” he said.
Since, such a baby cannot breathe on her own, she needs to be assisted by an external support in breathing while also ensuring that key risks are averted, including the risk of bleeding in the brain and infection. All of this, while providing proper nutrition. All of it took four months – about 128 days.
Immediately at birth, a smallest possible sized endotracheal tube was inserted into the breathing tube of the baby and the lungs supported by a ventilator. Sharing the details of her birth along with her Chhattisgarh-based parents Nikita and Saurabh, Dr Kancharla said, the mother had four abortions earlier and this time, the blood flow to the baby was reducing and the baby therefore needed to be delivered.
While, one may argue that there is no price to life, it is no brainer that high-tech care also comes at a cost. Much depends on the nature of the pre-term baby birth. Earlier a baby is born; the longer is the stay in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). On an average, an NICU admission would mean Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per day. To, this if ventilators are added, the expenses tend to go up, depending on the hospital and could go up to Rs 20,000 or thereabouts. Rainbow, headquartered out of Hyderabad, sees itself as a leading player in paediatric care. Currently, it has six hospitals in Hyderabad with 500 beds, is present in Vijayawada, Bangalore and entered Delhi six months ago. They plan to expand to Chennai by September taking their total bed count to 1250 beds.