Why we need a large children’s hospital
Around 13 years ago, my ovaries were operated on by a doctor who unfortunately did not realize that I was pregnant. My pregnancy was subsequently placed under observation, and in my 20th week, an ultrasound expert told me something was wrong with my baby. It wasn’t clear what yet, but it likely had something to do with his little heart. I was referred immediately to another specialist, a fetal and neonatal cardiologist at San Donato Hospital. She was also unable to figure out the exact nature of the problem, but told me that it could be aortic coarctation, a localized narrowing of the aortic canal that can cause a number of health problems, including sudden heart failure. In order to be sure, however, I needed to wait until the baby was born.
From one hospital to another in a sea of challenges
Despite this worrying situation, fifteen days before my due date I was invited to give birth at Madonnina, a private clinic that was not, and is still not, equipped with a neonatal intensive care unit. I turned to the ultrasound specialist who had initially identified the problem, and who worked at Sacco Hospital. They also did not have adequate support to take care of my child if he was born with the condition they expected. I was therefore sent to Buzzi Hospital, where Dr. Nicolini delivered my baby, whom we named Edoardo, with a C-section. As soon as Edoardo was born, he was taken under observation at San Donato Hospital because of the fe-tal cardiologist there who had seen me during the pregnancy.
Treating an infant is not the same
Twelve hours later, Edoardo was diagnosed with aortic coarctation, one of the most common causes of death in newborns. He was operated on immediately, and after the operation, since San Donato didn’t have a neonatal intensive care unit, he was placed in a ward with thirty beds surrounded by people of all ages, from a fourteen-year old adolescent to a man in his nineties. And he came down with sepsis. We were at San Donato because cardiac surgery was considered their specialty, but they didn’t have the expertise or experience to treat sepsis in a newborn. They gave Edoardo a treatment that consisted of massive doses of antibiotics and had little effect. After two weeks, when the sepsis had attacked his lungs and already caused hypoxia twice, the chief physician of San Donato’s ICU met with me and my husband. He said we had to take our child away, that he couldn’t be cured there, and they needed to free up his bed.
A light at the end of the tunnel
In desperation, I called Dr. Nicolini at Buzzi. They had no beds available at the moment, but they managed to find a place for Edoardo. Straight away, the pediatric anesthetists at Buzzi’s ICU halted half of the antibiotics my baby was taking, and reduced the dose of the other half. Things started to improve. Two weeks later, Edoardo pulled his own breathing tube out, and two days later we took him home, completely healed. In other words, when my son was pla-ced in a pediatric care facility and not one for adults, and when he was given treatment adapted to a newborn’s physiology, his outlook improved rapidly.
Why should we be happy about the bright new Buzzi?
Because treating a child and treating an adult are two different things that take different specialists and different treatments. Therefore, it’s important to have a pediatric hospital complete with every service and department: from general pediatrics to wards exclusively for children in critical condition. The latter department should have sufficient beds, qualified personnel, and equipment to accommodate all children in need. We are delighted that the expansion of Buzzi has finally begun, because Milan deserves a great Children’s Hospital, and because a story like mine should never happen again.