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Pioneering treatment for baby born with no pulse

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A newborn baby at risk of suffering a brain injury was given xenon gas by a British hospital, the first in the world to try the treatment.

Riley Joyce was born with no pulse at Royal United Hospital, Bath. He was resuscitated and sent to St Michael’s Hospital, Bristol, suffering from lack of oxygen and showing abnormal brain waves.

On arrival his parents were told there was a “50:50” chance of permanent injury and disability.

They were asked if they would agree to Riley being the first baby ever to inhale xenon gas as an experimental treatment that might improve his chances of full recovery.

After Prof Marianne Thoresen and her colleague Dr James Tooley had stabilised Riley at 33.5 degrees Celsius, Riley’s breathing machine was connected to the xenon delivery system for three hours.

Riley was kept cool for 72 hours, then slowly rewarmed and was able to breathe without the machine on day five.

The machine takes the exhaled gas, removes any waste products from it and re-circulates it to be breathed again without any loss at all to the outside air.

The device is now authorised for clinical trials and will be used on at least 12 babies over the coming months.

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