Team of Leicester doctors in 140-mile dash to help baby Alina
A team of doctors from Leicester raced 140 miles to save the life of a dying baby in Lancashire.
Medics from the UK's only specialist mobile Ecmo – extra corporeal membrane oxygenation – unit, at Glenfield Hospital, were able to hook newly-born Alina Ahmed up to a special machine which took over the work of her failing heart and lungs.
It pumped oxygenated blood around her tiny body until she was stable enough to be taken by ambulance to hospital in Newcastle, where there is a specialist Ecmo centre.
Alina, who was born on January 15, spent nine days there before being transferred back to Burnley General Hospital, where she spent the next six weeks.
She has now recovered well enough to go home for the first time.
Her mother, Naseem Ahmed, said: "I am just so grateful to all the doctors and nurses.
"I don't know how to thank the Leicester team. If it wasn't for them I don't think I would have my daughter today.
"Alina had swallowed meconium (baby faeces) before she was born. It had stuck to her lungs and the doctors weren't sure if she would pull through."
The 25-year-old was too poorly herself to go with her daughter to Newcastle.
Naseem said: "It was awful. I could hear other mums with their babies and wondered if I would ever be able to be a proper mum."
Alina, who weighed 7lb 14oz when she was born, is now at home in Blackburn, although she still has to be fed through a nasal tube.
Dr Meera Lama, neonatal clinical director at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "The quick response and stabilisation has resulted in Alina coming through a critical period. She was very sick that night and we thought we were going to lose her."
Yesterday, the life-saving team moved another critically-ill newborn from Southampton to Newcastle for the specialist treatment.
Ecmo is specialist treatment which oxygenates the blood outside the body to help seriously-ill patients recover.
Chris Harvey, who heads the Leicester team, is also the country's only Ecmo specialist consultant.
He said: "We can treat a maximum of five patients on Ecmo at a time at Glenfield Hospital and have been fairly much at capacity since November.
"It is pretty much always like this at this time of year, but the winter does seem to have gone on a bit longer than usual. However, we haven't had any babies not able to have the Ecmo treatment when needed."
Mr Harvey and the team, which usually comprises three or four doctors and nurses, all specialists in Ecmo, has helped more than 100 children and adults since the mobile service was established in January 2011.
He said: "When we get to a patient we carry out a small operation to put pipes in the neck to provide the Ecmo treatment.
"Their condition usually becomes stable and we can move them more safely to hospital."