A virus killed our baby
After a successful heart operation, our baby’s illness was a cruel twist.
After Zaan had his heart operation, he started to recover very nicely. We found out that he was allergic to cow’s milk and had to be placed on soya milk. This cost us a trip to the hospital over Christmas.

With his check-up in January at the cardiologist she was so impressed with him. He was able to sit with support and  generally catching up to his twin brother Tristan. At their 6-month check-up at the paediatrician, Zaan was half a centimeter shorter than his twin and one kilogram lighter.

When Zaan was 7 months old he started drinking less. On Monday, 10 March 2008, he only drank two whole bottles during the day and I took him to the paediatrician, who diagnosed bronchiolitis.

Because of Zaan’s history the doctor had him admitted to hospital and placed in High Care. He shared a room with two slightly older babies that had the RS Virus. We were unhappy with the hospital’s care and took him to another hospital. Unfortunately by then he had already caught the RS Virus and was getting sicker by the day.

On Saturday, 22 March, Zaan was again transferred this time to the PICU at Unitas. We arrived there to find the paramedic, doctors and nurses in a panic. Zaan had crashed in the ambulance and had to be bagged with adrenaline to stop the bronchiospasms.

He was intubated and sedated before transfer, but the nurses at Unitas couldn’t find a vein to place a drip. Eventually a doctor from the emergency rooms was able to place a drip in his knee. But every time he let go, the drip would stop flowing and Zaan was waking up from the sedation.

An anaesthetist was called out and a direct line was put into his main artery with an arterial line in his arm. After what seemed like hours Zaan was stabilised on the ventilator. The next day while we were visiting Zaan, his colour turned all splotchy. The nurse did a blood gas panel and immediately called a doctor. Again my husband and I stood out of the way watching the doctors struggling to save Zaan’s life. Zaan was bagged again with adrenaline. It was obvious that every time he was bagged his lungs were taking strain. At the end of the crisis Zaan had only 20% lung function and his oxygen level was at 47 when normal is above 90.

Over the next few days Zaan’s oxygen level slowly started climbing. Eventually he was well enough to be weaned from the ventilator. He was looking a lot better, although he was very thin. On Saturday 5 April, he managed to eat 5 spoons of porridge, something that I had been unable to get him to do before he got sick. The Monday he was very unhappy that I couldn’t hold him for longer. He was getting tired of lying there.

On Tuesday the 8th of April Zaan was well enough that the doctor started talking about discharging him before he picked up another virus, although he was very tired and fell asleep in my arms. We quickly arranged for take-home oxygen to be delivered the next morning. That night just before 11 o’clock we got a phone call from the doctor. I heard my husband ask the doctor if she was joking. The next thing he said was that we were on our way.

Zaan had died. His heart just stopped beating. He was happy and chatting to them before the alarms suddenly started screaming. It was over so quickly that they couldn’t even phone us before he died. We drove to the hospital knowing that it was to late. He was lying in the isolation room wrapped in blankets. That was the last time I could hold my baby.

More about the RS virus

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