Born weighing barely a pound, Canadian preemie now thriving

By Dave Andrusko

Kayden Slottke

Kayden Slottke

Now seven months old, Kayden Slottke weighs 14 pounds. “He’s teething, he just started eating solid foods and he’s ready to take on the next challenge life throws at him,” writes Sarah Kraus for Global News in Edmonton, Canada.

What makes that casual observation so freighted with meaning is that Kayden was born November 18–at 24 weeks–and weighing a mere 1Ib, three ounces.

“He was fragile,” said his mother Renate Slottke. “He was so tiny I was scared to hold him at first.”

For five months Kayden and Renate lived at the Stollery Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the Royal Alexandra Hospital

“It was an amazing but scary experience at the same time. There’s a lot of tears and a lot of heartache,” Slottke told Kraus. Her praise for the doctors and nurses was unstinted.

“The NIC Unit – I give them the best praises because they saved my baby’s life,” she said. The nurses and doctors returned the compliment, according to Kraus, saying Renate’s dedication that helped Kayden grow healthy.

“She participated in his care and that’s another thing that we recommend and promote for families these days,” said Dr. Manoj Kumar. “It’s been shown that it improves the outcomes for these children.”

In Mrs. Slottke’s words, Kayden entered the world about the size of a pound of butter. And with babies that premature (16 weeks early), there can be a raft of complications.

But survival rates have increased largely because of medical advances.

“The first big step in changing technology was the use of surfactant,” Dr. Kumar explained to Kraus. “That is a syrupy substance that’s produced naturally by babies’ lungs to keep the lungs open. Premature babies don’t produce as much surfactant.”

And there are better machines to help the babies breathe which are much less invasive, and better nutrition which can now be delivered through the baby’s veins. “It’s obviously heartening and I think we constantly look for ways we can improve further,” Dr. Kumar told Global News.

But reporter Kraus returned again and again to Mrs. Slottke’s dedication. As Cathy Ward, one of the head nurses, explained, “She was very committed and very determined that her little boy was going to make it and come home and he did it, and he’s thriving.”

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