Sick child treated after migrant bus arrives in Philadelphia in late March. (Photo: Mike Nelson / Reuters / Corbis)
PHILADELPHIA — The first night of the new year is usually a time for reflection and celebration. But at the Philadelphia Hospital Center, one sick child got to reflect on what could have easily been a life-or-death situation, and they got to celebrate.
For one, he was in for a surprise. The hospital’s child life specialist, Andrew L. McKean, was surprised, too. After all, he knew that the infant, a tiny 7-pound, 27-ounce baby, seemed healthy enough at the time — after all, he hadn’t seen anything.
The surprise came when McKean checked on the newborn in the early hours of the morning. The child’s heart rate was normal, his color was normal, he was breathing normally and his body weight was normal. But something was different.
“The boy’s heart was beating about 80 beats per minute, and he had no other detectable abnormalities,” McKean said. “It turns out he had a cardiac murmur — a small crack in the heart that could indicate a heart defect.”
From there, the situation was not very reassuring. McKean could not identify the problem, so he sent the baby’s parents home. The parents drove and took their son to the emergency room the next day. McKean checked on him again in the morning and found that the problem had worsened.
At that point, the baby’s condition was life-threatening, and McKean decided that he and his fellow doctors needed to take the first step.
“We took a step we do not normally take, and that’s to notify the family,” he said. “This is our call to help save a life