Baby Receives Life-Saving New Treatment

First use of inhaled nitric oxide on infant born at Marian a success

The latest technology provided by the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Marian Regional Medical Center (MRMC), combined with a determined, skilled team of medical professionals, have saved the life of a seriously ill newborn.

Dr. Eddie Alderete, Medical Director of Neonatal Services at MRMC, and his team used nitric oxide on Baby Valeria in the hours after her birth on July 13, which marked the first time the hospital team treated a newborn with nitric oxide. The distressed baby started improving within five minutes of inhaling the treatment. Nitric oxide dilates the pulmonary vessels to treat pulmonary hypertension in neonatal patients.

“She’s a tough little girl. She just wouldn’t give up and neither would we,” Alderete says. He believes the baby’s troubles involved a poorly functioning umbilical cord preventing the proper delivery of oxygen in the uterus. “The baby was very sick, right from birth. Valeria’s survival was very special, as is she.”

Valeria’s mother was brought to MRMC late in her pregnancy, and received an emergency cesarean section. Alderete estimates Valeria’s mother was about 35 to 36 weeks pregnant when her daughter was delivered and weighed five pounds.

Alderete says the new 21-bed NICU, which opened with the new hospital in May 2012, has enabled the use of nitric oxide, a treatment never before used on a baby born at MRMC. “Baby Valeria wouldn’t have survived,” Alderete says.

“That’s why this unit was built. Technology’s important, but really, it’s the people,” Alderete adds. “We had to work as a team. We had to stay focused on her care.”

Mary Richards, nursing director of the NICU at MRMC, says she and other staff have enjoyed watching Valeria make such a dramatic turnaround. “Babies that get into pulmonary hypertension and are as sick as she was, it’s a long road and a lot of care. A lot of manpower that goes into providing care for that type of a baby. To see her looking so bright-eyed and focused on her mom, and showing all the appropriate developmental things that a baby does, is very, very rewarding and we’re optimistic about her outcome.” Adds Richards, “In my career, many, many of these babies just didn’t make it.”

About Marian Regional Medical Center

Marian Regional Medical Center, located in Santa Maria, California, is rated among the top 10% in the nation for cardiac care and its cancer program is distinguished as the only comprehensive Community Cancer Center on the Central Coast. The need to meet the demand for quality, technologically-advanced care for a growing community led Marian to open its doors to a new state-of-the-art, 191-bed facility in the spring of 2012. The new facility houses the largest and most comprehensive perinatology/neonatology service providing the most compassionate, quality care to the littlest of patients. Marian is a Dignity Health member of the Central Coast, which also includes Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in Arroyo Grande, CA and French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, CA. Dignity is home to the unique Hearst Cancer Resource Center offering free education, resources and support to cancer patients and their families. French is a Dignity Health member of the Central Coast which also includes Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in Arroyo Grande, CA and Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, CA. Dignity Health of the Central Coast is an integrated network of top quality hospitals, physicians from the most prestigious medical schools, and comprehensive outpatient services including primary care offices, premier ambulatory surgery centers, technologically-advanced laboratories and imaging centers and a full service home health agency; all recognized for quality, safety and service. Each hospital is supported by an active philanthropic Foundation to help meet the growing health care needs of our communities.


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