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Paediatric nurse chills baby to slow racing heart

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A baby has been chilled for four days to slow down his heart rate after receiving surgery.

A narrowed aorta and a hole in 16-week-old Finley Burton’s heart were repaired a month ago, but the baby’s heart rate increased to a potentailly fatal 200 beats a minute following the surgery. This forced staff to place him, still sedated, inside a special blanket of cold air to try to slow his heart, according to children’s cardiac nurse Paddy Walsh.

Finley, from Easington Colliery, County Durham, was helped by an external pacemaker during his recovery.

Walsh, who works in Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, where the baby was treated, said: “Obviously if babies were awake and conscious throughout they would be very uncomfortable but they are kept very sedated so they are not fighting it and are asleep.”

The baby has now made a “super” recovery, she said.

The hole in Finley’s heart was working his lungs hard, causing him to lose his breath and energy. The small amount of calories he was managing to take in were quickly being absorbed because of the hard work his lungs and heart were doing.

Parents Donna Link-Emery and Aaron Burton became aware of a problem when Finley stopped putting on weight at 10 weeks. University Hospital of North Durham found he had the heart condition and operated on him two days later at Freeman Hospital.

Walsh added: “When we close off the hole, babies start breathing at a lovely rate and they manage to feed beautifully.”

He is now progressing well at home and is feeding well.


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