Brian Martin; Dr. Kamtorn, Clinical
Director of the NICU, holding Tyler Martin; Director
of Neonatology, Dr Shyan Sun and Melissa Martin.
It will be an extra special first
birthday for Tyler Martin, who was born last
June 28 at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. Tyler is considered
to be the smallest baby ever to survive in New Jersey.
Tyler is also thought to be the second smallest newborn to
survive in the country. The smallest baby to survive nationally,
who weighed 10 ounces (280 grams), was three weeks older
than the Martin baby.
Weighing only 11 ounces (320 grams) and born at 23-weeks,
Tyler was cared for at the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive
Care Unit (NICU) and was released on November 25, 2003, to join
his parents, Melissa and Brian, and his twin brother, Calahan,
who was released on October 26.
“It is wonderful to have both babies home and we are very
thankful,” says Mrs. Martin. We really want to thank Dr.
Sun, Dr. Kamtorn and a nurse who cared for the boys, Victoria Kratsch,
R.N. We truly believe if our boys had not been born at Saint Barnabas,
they would not have survived.”
Outstanding Survival Rate at NICU
For infants with the lowest birth weights, the Saint Barnabas NICU
a survival rate that is more than double the average rate at NICUs
In 2002, premature infants born at 23-weeks gestation at Saint
Barnabas had a 70 percent chance of survival compared to the average
survival rate of 25 percent at 449 NICUs worldwide.
Moreover, preemies from Saint Barnabas have a lower complication
rate for common problems such as blindness and chronic lung disease. “The
reason these babies are surviving here is because of the team’s
intensive efforts in the first few minutes of the infants’ lives,” says
Shyan Sun, M.D., Director of the NICU at Saint Barnabas. Life-threatening
complications occur during this period and mismanagement at this
time carries long-term consequences.”
When a premature infant enters the world at Saint Barnabas, he
immediately receives medical care by an attending neonatologist.
Even if quintuplets are born, each baby has a dedicated neonatologist
(one for each baby) in the delivery room from the first second
of life. The Medical Center has eight neonatologists in the NICU
during the day and two at night, with an additional three available
at a moment’s notice at all hours.
This additional manpower translates into a major effort for preemies
in the first moments of life. A study by the National Center for
Health Statistics reports that the highest time of infant death
occurs in the first hour of life, followed by the first day.
Saint Barnabas neonatologists also focus attention on the need
for delicate pulmonary care for premature infants. Specialized
ventilation equipment is used to open the lungs, while also limiting
the pressure so that no damage can occur.
Physicians also use a special medication to open the lungs, which
administered into the lungs even before the infant draws his or
her first breath. This helps to keep the lungs open.
Too Much Oxygen Can be Toxic
For the past year, NICU neonatologists have had success using blended
oxygen instead of pure oxygen in the delivery room to minimize
oxygen exposure for the preemies. Premature infants do not have
enough enzymes to neutralize pure oxygen. The use of 100 percent
oxygen can be toxic and lead to long-term tissue damage, resulting
in chronic lung disease and blindness.
Following Preemies as They Grow
Premature infants continue to be evaluated on an outpatient basis
through the High Risk Infant Follow Up Program at Saint Barnabas.
For Dr. Sun and his team of neonatologists, this opportunity to
see former preemies thrive is a priceless experience.
“To see them grow up so beautifully is the joy of being a
neonatologist,” says Dr. Sun who is overjoyed to see the
progress of the tiny Martin twins. “Our happiness is to save
them and then see them grow.”
For more information about the NICU at Saint
Barnabas, please call (973) 322-5300.
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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit