University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Meet the patients: Kaleb

KalebAfter making a traumatic entrance into the world, baby Kaleb was given time to chill out.

The tot was among the first babies at Princess Anne Hospital to receive a new hi-tech cooling treatment to prevent brain damage.

As a UHS employee, Larelle Jauncey, 19, from Shirley in Southampton, knows the Princess Anne better than most first-time mums – but she didn’t expect to spend so much time there after giving birth to Kaleb.

She said: “My pregnancy had been fine, but I was nearly two weeks overdue, so I came to Princess Anne Hospital to be induced.

“Everything seemed to be going OK, but then there were problems with Kaleb’s blood pressure and I had a very high temperature. As soon as he was born they took him away and started working on him, then he was taken to neonatal intensive care.”

The first 48 hours of Kaleb’s life were critical and, at one point, he stopped breathing. Larelle and her boyfriend, Luke Wheeler, were warned they might want to consider getting their baby son christened in hospital, in case he did not survive.

Doctors then decided to use a new treatment to cool Kaleb’s body temperature in a bid to prevent any brain damage that may have been caused when he was born.

Kaleb was attached to a cold body wrap and connected to a hi-tech cooling machine, which was used to drop his body temperature from the normal 37° to 33.5°. This hypothermia was maintained for around 72 hours before he was gradually warmed back to normal.

Consultants Dr Robert Ironton and Dr Vijay Baral lead the new cooling treatment, which has been introduced following recent studies that suggest cooling a baby limits the severity of any brain injury.

If the blood supply between a mother and baby becomes obstructed or cut – known as perinatal asphyxia – the baby can become severely deprived of oxygen. 

This lack of oxygen sets off an inflammatory response in the brain cells that can lead to serious illness, or, in some cases, prove fatal.

It is believed that cooling the body of an at-risk baby within six hours of birth, in addition to standard intensive care treatment, gives the brain time to recover by limiting inflammation and slowing the body’s energy needs.

Dr Baral said: “Baby cooling is standard practice in many larger hospitals across the world and we are delighted to now be able to provide this new service for babies in Southampton.”

Larelle’s mum, Martina Jauncey, said: “It was a very difficult time for both families while Kaleb was in hospital, but the nurses were very good to us all.

“Everyone was surprised how well Kaleb did and how quickly he got better.”

Kaleb is now a happy, healthy baby, with no signs of his dramatic start in life, but will be regularly monitored for the first few years of his life.

First published in Connect issue 24.