MCH team saves premature baby Konrad

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First published in the Herald Sun on 31 July 2017, by Grant McArthur

As baby Konrad’s heart flatlined repeatedly in the first terrifying nine months of his life, his mother, Shannyn Kiley, gave him more goodbye kisses than she dared to remember.

But now, in good health and with a beaming smile, it is the Wodonga baby’s turn to wave goodbye today — to the hospital that has saved him after being born prematurely, having a bowel outside his body, pneumonia and too many resuscitations to recall.

“At every turn I thought I was going to lose him,” Ms Kiley said.

“Every time we tried the feeds again it would be a matter of: ‘Are these feeds more important than his life?’ He would crash all the time for no reason.”

During a 12-week ultrasound it was revealed Konrad was growing with his bowel on the outside of his body in an extreme case of gastroschisis, which left his body unable to gain the nutrients needed to grow. Then, 33 weeks into the pregnancy, the bowel became so twisted inside the womb it burst, sending Ms Kiley into early labour.

Within 90 minutes Wodonga Hospital had given Ms Kiley medication to delay the birth and an air ambulance had her on the way to Monash Medical Centre. On October 28 Konrad was born weighing 1.3kg.

Surgeons immediately operated to put Konrad’s bowel inside his body hoping to save whatever they could, with a further two surgeries coming over the next three days.

But in the end just 27cm of his gut could be saved — one-tenth of what a normal newborn would have. But after seven days, Ms Kiley was finally able to hold Konrad as she made Ronald McDonald House her home.

A bigger celebration came the next day when Konrad proved his bowel worked.

But as efforts turned to feeding, the danger returned. Konrad’s first few days of feeding 1ml of milk every four hours caused his body to shut down and he had to be revived. By December 14 — the same day he was due to be born — Konrad had finally improved and was moved out of intensive care and onto a hospital ward.

A few days later his body crashed completely when pneumonia struck and it took three attempts to save his life.

Konrad was placed on life support in Monash Children’s Hospital for the next fortnight.

Surgery to insert a tube into an artery of Konrad’s heart weeks later again saw him slipping away — and again he was resuscitated.

Remarkably though, brain scans show the constant periods without oxygen had not had any permanent impact.

“For the first six months we had a lot of ups and downs, ups and downs, it was really intense,” Ms Kiley said.

“Before every surgery, each day they wheeled him in, I gave him that kiss goodbye.”

With Konrad now so strong he has begun eating some solid food, he is finally able to make it home to Wodonga, though he will require a feeding tube for several years to come.

View the Channel Seven story below:

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