An opportunity to protect babies who need surgery at Tenwek
Babies get cold. A simple fact of life that most of us know and therefore give some attention to keeping them wrapped up and warm. We can't do that as easily in the OR. We need them exposed and worse - we get them wet to some degree while operating. Another fact of life.
However, getting cold (hypothermic) is a real problem. It can impair the ability of a person to stop bleeding along with other medical issues. And babies are particularly susceptible due to several factors (body surface area, thickness of their skin, lack of fat...).
So at Tenwek we have been using this radiant warmer to keep babies warm while operating on them (see above photo). But it isn't a great strategy. Picture me ducking my head under the warmer and then operating on a baby's delicate structures for an hour or two or three. Not an ideal position for a surgeon to do his or her best work on an infant or premie. Then notice that my head and upper body is between the warming element and the baby down below. Not much heat gets to the baby, but the surgeon and assistant get their heads scorched! Another distraction for the surgical team and a risk for the baby to get hypothermia.
Seeing the same "baby warmer" in OR#1 upon my arrival, I decided we needed to do something better for our most fragile and at-risk patients. So after looking and looking, we found a brand new device which is reusable and should last quite a while. It consists of a gel pad (see below; replaced more frequently than the main unit; ~ every 3 years) which the baby lays on while a machine on the floor pumps warm water through it. It is very carefully regulated so the baby can't be burned. And the gel pad is very safe for the baby's skin to avoid any injury. One simply lays it on a regular operating table and sets the temperature. Leaving the surgical team to stand up straight and sweat a whole lot less!
May this new device help provide quality care and demonstrate in a small way how God cares for these kids.
Mike and Julie