Often, we face circumstances where we must go above and beyond for those we love and care about. However, what makes healthcare different are doctors and nurses whose job is to care for patients whom they may not know. At the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), our doctors and nurses are trained to take care of all our patients with care and compassion. However, we too are sometimes surprised by how much care and dedication is needed to save some precariously balanced lives, where our doctors and nurses go above and beyond to save them, hoping and praying that their interventions work and are enough to create miracles.
This is one such story, the story of little baby Hadi, who was born all too soon.
Hadi's parents, Dr. Abdul Hakim and Sultana, hail from Quetta. When they were expecting Hadi, they thought it would be smooth sailing; he was their fourth baby and they did not anticipate any challenges. However, nature had other plans. Sultana had a complicated pregnancy and went into labour at 26 weeks. Premature births always have higher risks, and being a doctor, her husband was all too aware of them.
Seeing his wife's frail condition, her extreme pain, agony, and fear, and watching her fight for her very survival, he decided to fly her to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi. Dr Abdul Hakim felt AKUH gave them the best chance and with the multidisciplinary approach and high quality of care the University Hospital is known for, would be the answer to their prayers.
“I was certain that I wanted to bring my wife to AKUH, as it was the only hospital I knew of that could provide holistic care for my wife and newborn baby in their time of need," said Hakim. Thus started a 120-day – 4 month-long journey of this family at AKUH.
Baby Hadi was born on October 28, 2021, via C-Section, with significant risks and complications involved in the procedure for both the mother and the baby. Being a premature baby, Hadi's lungs had not fully developed due to which he had severe respiratory problems and he was intubated and put into AKUH's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU.
“Hadi was intubated within half an hour of birth, which is quite miraculous," said Hakim. What is even more incredible is that Hadi remained ventilator-dependent for 109 days, yet came out thriving. His medical team faced multiple challenges during this time whenever they tried extubating him. Finally, on February 13, 2022, they successfully extubated him and continued monitoring his condition for another month.
“I was willing to sacrifice anything to ensure the survival and health of my wife and baby. Thankfully, my prayers were answered, and the incredible medical and nursing teams at AKUH ensured that both the mother and the baby received the right care, and constantly monitored them for their well-being," said a teary-eyed Hakim.
The NICU team at AKUH put together a multidisciplinary team for Hadi, who developed his treatment plan and monitored his progress throughout his stay. NICU Head Nurse, Samuel Sarooj said, “It was such a roller coaster ride with Hadi, but he is a true fighter and he had our entire NICU team behind him, caring for him and fighting alongside him for his survival.
“From the very first day, we created a cozy, warm, and pain-free cocoon for this tiny life. In normal circumstances, he would have received this in his mum's womb, but since he decided to arrive early, we ensured he had an infection-free environment where all hygienic practices, especially hand hygiene, were followed religiously by all our staff," said Samuel, adding that the NICU team provided him the best ventilation and multidisciplinary support possible, and made sure all services were enhanced and fully utilised to support Baby Hadi.
After going through a stormy course full of twists and turns involving premature birth and mechanical ventilation after birth, Hadi was discharged from the NICU on March 8, 2022 after showing significant signs of improvement. Dr Adnan Mirza, the primary doctor leading Hadi's treatment said the medical team would continue to follow his progress and pray for his long, healthy life, with his happy and grateful parents and family.
Despite experiencing many ups and downs in their journey, Hakim cannot stop praising the efforts of the skilled and determined caregivers at NICU, AKUH. “There were so many challenges, but we never felt alone, there was always someone with us, guiding us, helping us every step of the way. They cared for Hadi like their own, and that made all the difference."