Air, chyle… and hope?

K had a nightmare of a time. She came to our hospital with an undiagnosed fever and during her stay delivered a preterm baby. K had to be shifted to CMC to sort out her fever and the baby struggled to survive in our nursery. She had mild HMD and needed CPAP (oxygen under pressure). Just when her tiny lungs seemed to have recovered she blew a pneumothorax – a hole in her lungs that caused air to leak into her chest. I quickly put in a chest tube and luckily she improved. A few days later the tube was removed and she was started on nasogastric feeds. All seemed well till one day I noticed she seemed to be breathing slightly faster. A chest Xray revealed fluid around of her lungs (pleural effusion). I expected it to be pus or water and took a little fluid out for tests – and for the first time in my life I stared at chyle! Chyle is a milky white fluid (see the picture) and is a very rare cause for a pleural effusion. I confiremd it was chyle by doing tests we had never done before and when it kept reaccumulating we had to put in another chest tube. By this time the mother was back, but we couldn’t allow her to feed the child. To cut a long story short, the chyle kept coming out while hope kept running out and we finally made a few tricky decisions before we could finally pull out the tube. She slowly gained a little weight and could be sent home. I couldn’t promise the mother that all would be OK, but the very fact that they could go home after almost 50 days in the hospital brought a smile to their face. K’s baby has several more hurdles to face in her life. But she seems a great fighter – although her frail body weighing about 1.75 kg would make you think otherwise. Say a prayer for her when you read this – I have no idea what life has in store for her.
“Many things about tomorrow,
I don’t seem to understand;
But I know Who holds tomorrow,
And I know Who holds my hand.”
(words and music by Ira Stanphill)

Author: Benji

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