Over the years, some physicians develop an additional sense. Like an internal navigator of sorts, the driving sense or intuition is felt very deep in the gut. Skill, time and confidence condition the sense, which can be a powerful force in changing and, at times, saving lives.
Neonatologist Leslie Leigh, MD, has a self-awareness and intuition that are pervasive. These characteristics, along with technology at Gwinnett Medical Center’s (GMC) Gwinnett Women’s Pavilion, based in Lawrenceville, changed the game one night for the Garner family, whose son was born with insufficient oxygen to the brain.
In the fall of 2010, Dr. Leigh was packing up for home, but instead was lead to linger.
Laurel and Corey Garner’s first child’s delivery was typical; however, the second delivery was anything but normal. “Laurel’s delivery was a challenge,” said Dr. Leigh, “because of the size of the baby and the relatively small size of the mother.” Cooper, Garner’s second child, weighed about 10 pounds at birth. During delivery, Garner experienced shoulder dystocia, which occurs after the delivery of the head when the shoulders cannot pass, and is considered an emergency.
“Once he was delivered, we were able to see Cooper, who was named by his big brother, Drew. But, it was blurry because of the emotions, not to mention fast because of the critical, specialized treatment,” said Garner.
“My husband, Corey, and I knew it was a very serious situation when the clinicians and the doctor begin praying. We kept hearing ‘code’ repetitively on the intercom system as Cooper was being rushed to the NICU.”
It was Dr. Leigh’s job to salvage Cooper’s brain, which was at significant risk and could have led to debilitating, brain damage or even death. For treatment, the team utilized GMC’s Cool Cap system employing cutting-edge technology called selective head cooling. This approach consists of cooling the brain for a few days then slowly re-warming it for four hours. The technology must be applied within six hours after birth.
Dr. Leigh and Dan Suskin, MD, who is also a GMC neonatologist, purchased the equipment for the hospital a few years ago. “Because cool cap technology allows real-time monitoring, we recognized increased brain activity in Cooper over the next 24 to 48 hours,” said Dr. Leigh. “His improvement was remarkable.”
“Initially, I didn’t think he was going to live,” said Garner, a second grade teacher at Chattahoochee Elementary in Duluth, Ga. “In the first hours of life, I was unable to see him because of the severity of his case; however, a nurse brought a picture of him, which I slept with. The team of nurses and physicians at GMC always called me and my husband with updates and provided information when we called. By then, the nurses were friends.”
“Learning to handle and care for a NICU baby was overwhelming, however, the nursing staff guiding me so that we could care for Cooper, although there were times when they were taking care of me. The staff and physicians at GMC provided a loving experience,” continued Garner.
On the tenth day, Cooper was released to go home with his mother, father and big brother.
Today, he’s a lively one year old. At his check-ups at 6 months and one year of age, the Garner’s miracle baby, as he’s called, met all physical, emotional and mental indicators of normal development for his age category.
In fact, it’s hard to keep up with this baby that was once wrapped in life-saving technology and wires.
About Gwinnett Medical Center
Gwinnett Medical Center is a not-for-profit healthcare network with acute-care hospitals in Lawrenceville and Duluth that provide award-winning healthcare services. GMC’s 4,200 associates and 800 affiliated physicians serve more than 400,000 patients annually. To learn more about how GMC is transforming healthcare, visit gwinnettmedicalcenter.org or follow us at facebook.com/gwinnettmedical, twitter.com/gwinnettmedical or youtube.com/gwinnettmedical.