Doctors decided to “freeze” a baby who had a 300 beats per minute heart rate in order to increase the baby’s five percent chance of survival. By “freezing” the baby, a new treatment used to slow down a baby’s heart rate, doctors successfully decreased the baby’s heart rate and its chance for survival, reports ABC News on Feb. 15, 2013.
“It wasn’t until 10 days after giving birth that Claire Ives was able to hold her son. A month later she and her husband, Phillip Ives, were able to bring Edward home to join his two older siblings.”
Claire Ives, the mother of baby boy Edward, discovered her unborn child’s extreme heart rate when she was seven months pregnant. By using a handheld device to listen to her unborn son’s heartbeat, Claire thought at first that something was wrong with the monitoring device. The normal rate of a heart beat should be about 160 beats per minute, not 300.
After doctors confirmed that the life-threatening heartbeat of 300 was not due to the malfunctioning of a device but due to a medical emergency, Edward was born five weeks early via an emergency cesarean at the University College London Hospital.
Edward was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and was given a five percent chance of survival.
“SVT is caused by improper electrical impulses in the heart that leads to an irregular rapid heartbeat heart, which then can lead to heart failure or affect internal organs. When the heart beats too quickly, it can’t fill up properly and then distribute blood to vital organs correctly.”
Since the traditional method of using medication did not achieve the necessary effect of reducing Edward’s heart rate, doctors used a cold gel blanket to “freeze” the baby boy and to bring his temperature down to about 91 degrees.
While the doctors’ “freezing” treatment was successful in decreasing the baby’s heart rate, as soon as the baby’s body temperature was brought back up again, so did the baby’s heart rate.
After “freezing” the baby a second time, doctors decided to bring up Edward’s body temperature again but this time only half a degree every 12 hours; and it worked.
Today, the baby that had to be “frozen” in order to survive is a healthy six-month-old boy. While Edward’s heart rate has remained stable, his mom’s heart rate increases every time she relives the dramatic effort to save her baby’s life.
“He was heavily sedated so didn't move much, and he was cold to touch - it looked like he was dead."