From Critical Condition to Chatterbox: How a Portable Echo Machine Helped Save Baby Eli's Life

01 Oct 2023

Like most toddlers, fifteen-month-old Eli is a chatterbox who is full of energy. It’s a stark contrast to when he was born.   Like most toddlers, fifteen-month-old Eli is a chatterbox who is full of energy. It’s a stark contrast to when he was born.   

Left: Eli in hospital as a newborn, Right: Eli playing on a swing

(Image: On the left, Eli is in a hospital crib with and arm reaching in to comfort him. Eli is holding one of the fingers on the hand. On the right, Eli is in a swing at a playground, smiling.)

Like most toddlers, fifteen-month-old Eli is a chatterbox who is full of energy. It’s a stark contrast to when he was born.   

At birth, Eli’s heart had difficulty getting enough oxygen to his body and his oxygen levels dropped dangerously low, so low they couldn’t be measured. 

With Eli’s condition critical, the medical team at Gosford Hospital, where he was born, sought urgent guidance from the Newborn & paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS).  

On arrival, the NETS team performed an echocardiogram on Eli – an ultrasound of the heart – using a portable echo machine. This specialised equipment uses ultrasound technology to diagnose heart issues rapidly and accurately, which is vital in circumstances like Eli’s.  

Eli was diagnosed with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN), a rare and life-threatening breathing problem which occurs when a newborn's circulation continues to flow as it did while in the womb and too much blood flow bypasses the lungs. 

Access to the portable echo machine, funded by Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation, coupled with the expertise and quick action of the NETS team, enabled Eli’s condition to be diagnosed within a crucial timeframe.  

At just one day old, Eli was intubated and transferred by NETS via helicopter from Gosford to The Grace Centre for Newborn Intensive Care at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW), where a specialist team including a neonatologist and cardiologist were able to support him and provide the necessary critical care.  

Eli being transferred by NETs

(Image: A team of medical professionals prepare to move Eli into a waiting helicopter. Eli is in crib on a stretcher.)

"At an incredibly scary time for us, the NETS team were incredible,” Eli’s mum, Kim, said. 

After arriving at CHW, Eli was put onto a mechanical ventilator, which supported his breathing for the next three days, and placed on medication to help stabilise his condition and put him on the road to recovery.  

“We cannot speak highly enough of the team at Grace. Words don't do justice to the way they provided support and expertise to Eli and us,” Eli’s dad, Ryan, said. 

“While their training and education was ultimately what helped Eli on his way to better health, it was their compassion, kindness, and caring nature that meant the most.” 

After 11 days of specialist intensive care in Grace, Eli had made a significant improvement, and was well enough to be transferred back to Gosford Hospital, before making his way home for the first time at just over two weeks of age.  

Eli’s remarkable recovery can be largely attributed to his quick diagnosis and is one of the reasons the Grace Centre has recently purchased an additional portable echocardiography machine for their department.  

Supported through fundraising, the new machine will enable more rapid and accurate diagnoses for critically unwell babies, helping to deliver life-changing outcomes for patients like Eli and their families. 

We have a wonderful, happy, energetic little boy who was so well looked after by the team at Grace. They have made all the difference to our family, and we will never forget all the wonderful nurses, registrars, social workers, and Neonatologists who will hold a special place in our hearts forever,” Kim said.  

Your donation to Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation today can help ensure kids like Eli get the best possible healthcare, whenever and wherever they need it.

Related Posts

New hope for kids like Charlie

Find out about the world-first clinical trial into ependymomas that's giving new hope to k...

Twin brothers share more than just an unbreakable bond

Everleigh’s Story

Brooklyn’s pregnancy with her firstborn was picture perfect. For months leading up to t...

Ryder's Story

"I was scared to pick her up at first if I'm honest”: Newborns and Critical Wounds

Ella was diagnosed with EB at birth. Her first six months have been a learning curve for h...

Marcus’ home away from home

A Movement of Many, fighting for the health and wellbeing of all children in an ever changing world.

See how the Movement of Many are helping sick kids

See your impact
Collage of Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation staff and donors making a heart symbol with their hands