Meet Dheeraj – a little boy from Severna Park who spent the first six weeks of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at UMCH. For several minutes before his birth, caregivers at a local community hospital could not locate Dheeraj’s heartbeat, so he was born via emergency c-section. At birth, doctors quickly realized that Dheeraj had suffered a brain stroke, and rushed to transfer him to our Level-IV NICU (one of two in the state with this highest level of distinction) for a seemingly simple, but revolutionary therapy known as hypothermia treatment.
For 72 hours, our specialists maintained Dheeraj’s body temperature at 92.3 degrees. For newborns who have experienced brain trauma, like Dheeraj, this cool environment minimizes cell death and enables brain cells – that might otherwise be damaged – to reprogram.
As Dheeraj lay on the special cooling blanket for three days, and continued to recover in the NICU for six weeks, his mother, Sharmila, received encouragement and education from our care providers. During a particularly challenging period, she bonded with Christine – one of our very experienced nurses.
Over the weeks, Christine went out of her way to deliver updates on Dheeraj, and she and all of the NICU nurses invited Sharmila to call anytime – day or night. She took extra time to teach Sharmila the intricacies of caring for a newborn. Sharmila now calls Christine her “angel,” for the belief she had in Dheeraj, and for the care she took in helping to gently ease Sharmila into motherhood after the abrupt and scary start with which it had begun.
The state-of-the-art medicine and family-centered care that Dheeraj and Sharmila experienced during their stay in the NICU are the hallmarks of the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. And we are delighted to report that Dheeraj is now thriving as an active and happy two-year-old.