It’s the most tragic and heartbreaking thing a mother can imagine: learning there’s something wrong with her baby in utero. When Claire Ives was seven months pregnant, she got the terrible news that her son’s heartbeat was going at a rate of twice the normal number of beats, and was forced to deliver him five weeks early.
Baby Edward was born with supraventricular tachycardia, a condition that causes improper electrical impulses in the heart and leads to an irregular heartbeat. The end result is that the heart can overwork itself and stop, or organs which aren’t getting enough blood flow begin to malfunction.
Not long after he was born, Edward’s heart began to race the way it had in the womb, and doctors tried shocking it and administering medication, to no avail. The infant was given just a 5% chance of survival.
“I just thought he was going to die,” said Ives.
When nothing else worked, doctors turned to an unconventional method for a patient so young; cooling him with gel ice packs to slow his heart rate and protect his organs. His body temperature was dropped to just 91 degrees, and over the span of several days, a team of doctors and nurses stood close watch over the baby as his heartrate continued to spike up and down. Eventually, by using a combination of the cooling method and medication, they got his heart rate to remain stable. A full ten days after he was delivered, Claire got to hold her baby boy for the first time. Edward is now six months old and appears to be fine.
“It was horrible to see him lying there freezing in nothing but a nappy,” Claire Ives said. “He was heavily sedated so didn’t move much, and he was cold to touch – it looked like he was dead. All I wanted to do was scoop him up and give him a warm cuddle. I just had to keep reminding myself that it was saving his life.”
Though Edward will have to be monitored as he gets older to ensure the condition doesn’t return, the family says they are extremely grateful that science was on their side when it mattered most.
“It’s made me appreciate all the small things about my children,” said Ives. ”It’s the best thing ever to bring him home.”