ABU DHABI, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) has introduced an Interstage Monitoring Programme (IMP) for newborns with heart abnormalities that require multiple surgeries.

Implemented by a dedicated and highly specialised group of physicians, nurses and administrative staff for the first time in the UAE, the programme helps to monitor infants while they are at home waiting for their next cardiac surgery.

Infants born with the most severe types of heart abnormalities, such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and other conditions in which only one side of the heart is functioning, normally undergo an initial open-heart surgery in their first few days of life, followed by a second heart surgery after six months. Patients are discharged during the wait between the first and second surgery. The pediatric congenital cardiac team at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC), a SEHA-affiliated facility, look after 50 to 60 newborns with these conditions every year.

The time between the two surgeries, known as the interstage period, places infants at an increased risk of death, with approximately 20% of children born with complex heart conditions passing away in the lead-up to the second surgery. To help parents monitor their infant’s condition and to ensure timely medical intervention if necessary, a group of cardiac intensive care physicians, nurses and administrative employees from SKMC have come together to provide continuous monitoring and medical counseling during the interstage period. This helps to keep them safe and healthy in the lead-up to the second procedure.

Dr. Anwar Sallam, Group Chief Medical Officer, SEHA, said, “Newborns face a higher risk of death during the interstage period, due to the increased toll a simple virus or other infections can have on an abnormally developed heart. With parents not knowing what to watch out for, and how rapidly a newborn with a heart abnormality’s health can deteriorate, the SKMC pediatric cardiac surgical department have taken the lead in introducing a programme that enables the continuous monitoring and care of infants at home during the waiting period.”

Dr. Victoria Sheward, Consultant Pediatric Cardiac Intensivist, SKMC, said, “Of the approximately 350 corrective heart surgeries we perform on children each year, around 60 infants require a follow-up open-heart procedure after around six months. By introducing the interstage monitoring programme, we are letting parents know they are not alone during this journey and providing them with the support they need to keep their newborns safe, healthy and alive as they wait for their second operation.”

The programme was established by SKMC in July 2020, and currently has close to 30 infants enrolled for home monitoring. To date, three of them were identified to be nearing critical condition as a result of their declining health, and for whom urgent intervention was arranged through the programme.

 

Source: Emirates News Agency