GOSH gives a second chance to Kuwaiti child suffering from a life-threatening condition

Born prematurely in Kuwait, with very small and underdeveloped lungs alongside additional problems with his main blood vessels and stomach, the Kuwaiti baby faced an uphill battle for survival. "They told me soon after he was born that he would not live for long. I was devastated when I knew the diseases he was suffering from. I was without hope when we came over to the UK, but the staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital did not lose hope in him", the child's mother shares.   

At nine months old, he was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH) in London for further specialist treatment. Although his condition had stablised at five months old in Kuwait, repeated infections meant that his health deteriorated again. “The treating doctors and supervisors back home decided to refer him to treat at GOSH,” his mother shares. “His pulmonary artery pressure was high, resulting in an inability to close a hole in his heart.” 

His condition was under the supervision of Dr Paul Aurora, Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine and Lung Transplantation. "As a first step, I worked closely with the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) consultants to support him and stabilise his condition.” Explains Dr. Aurora. “We had to use advanced types of ventilators, and also very strong medicines to reduce the inflammation in his lungs. This was a very tricky time and he almost died on more than one occasion.”  

Eventually, after two months of treatment, the doctors were able to stabilise him enough that they were able to perform three operations. Dr Yates, Consultant in Paediatric and Fetal Cardiology, corrected a narrowing in one of his main blood vessels. Then Mr Curry, Consultant Neonatal and Paediatric Surgeon, corrected an abnormality of his stomach. Finally, Dr Hewitt, Paediatric Otolaryngologist, performed a tracheostomy. A tracheostomy is an opening in the front of the neck where a tube can be inserted into the windpipe to help children breathe. This was performed to help his breathing with a ventilator. These operations improved his condition as well as his lungs and he moved out of immediate danger and began to improve. After this Dr Aurora and his team were able to move the child onto a small portable ventilator, meaning he could be moved off the ICU and onto a normal ward. 

Eventually, the child was well enough to return home although he still had a tracheostomy and required a small ventilator that provided assistance for his breathing. He spent the next 10 months stable as an inpatient in Kuwait but returned to GOSH shortly before his second birthday to see if doctors could improve his situation further. 

Dr Aurora and his team set to the task of getting the child to breathe on his own. “We did this using muscle training techniques which have been used by our respiratory and ICU doctors and physiotherapists in many other similar children over the last 20 years. Fortunately, we were successful,” said Dr Aurora.  

Ten weeks after arriving in London for the second time, he was able to breathe on his own without a ventilator machine for the first time in two years. “This was more difficult than expected, and Mr Hewitt had to perform an advanced operation to achieve this but the operation was successful, and he no longer has a tracheostomy.” Dr. Aurora explains.   

Dr. Aurora is optimistic about the future. “I expect that his lungs will continue to grow and that he will only have minor lung problems in future. In other ways, he will grow and develop too. He was one of the sickest patients we have ever seen and came close to death many times. Now he is at home with his family, is enjoying his life, and has a good future in front of him.” 

"I’m optimistic and I hope he will get better, I was surprised by seeing him growing and moving,” his mother told us. "Whatever I say about Dr. Aurora, I will not be able to do him justice, he is the reason after God that my child is getting better.”   

His mother expressed her gratitude to the nurses at GOSH: "I could see the love they have for him, they were affected when he was tired, I saw them crying for him. I feel content and comfortable at the hospital; the staff were so kind."