Brooks Arnold came rushing into our world 104 days early, his gestation was 25 weeks + 1 day.
Brooks was delivered via emergency C-section in Brighton Hospital, then immediately taken up to the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU). The TMBU is a dedicated neonatal unit within Brighton Hospital who specialise in pre-term babies.
Brooks was immediately put on a ventilator and enclosed within an incubator to keep him warm and protected from airborne germs. The outlook for Brooks wasn't good, his lungs were severely underdeveloped and weighing only 833 grams (1.8 lbs) he was very weak. Much to our amazement after a rocky 24 hours Brooks showed signs of breathing independently, and an attempt was made to take him off the ventilator.
During the procedure an unforeseen issue occurred and Brooks suffered a pulmonary bleed causing further damage to his lungs. At this point we were facing the possibility that he wouldn’t make it through the night.
Following this event, during a routine heart scan, the consultants detected the valve connecting the aorta and the pulmonary artery was still open, allowing blood to flow into the lungs. Brooks would need a PDA Ligation operation to clamp the tiny valve in his heart with a metal clip. The operation took place at St Thomas in London, when he was just 2 weeks old. The operation was successful, and Brooks was transferred back to TMBU the following day.
In his first month of life, Brooks seemed to develop almost every serious complication associated with being born so premature. Each day we visited Brooks on the unit to spend the day with him, the nurses would update us with more grave news regarding his condition and stability.
As well as the problem with his heart valve Brooks also suffered a bleed to the brain and a punctured lung on two separate occasions due to the high pressure of the ventilator.
He also underwent a lumbar puncture & countless intravenous drips supplying sedatives and antibiotics to treat sepsis, caused by an infection on the intravenous line providing his nutrition.
Each day & night the specialist nurses would monitor and care for Brooks, changing his dressings, nappies and providing suctioning to clear his airways. Due to Brooks’s fragile condition in the early weeks we had little to no physical contact with him.
The week prior to Father's Day, Brooks took a further turn for the worst, despite TMBU staff doing everything they could think of to keep him stable his condition continued to deteriorate.
Brooks was placed on high oxygen purity, intravenous steroids, morphine, diuretics and strong antibiotics...all to try and resolve the unforeseen respiratory downturn in his health.
After 4 days of fighting Brooks turned a corner responding well to the cocktail of treatments, so much so he was taken off the ventilator on Father’s Day and put onto CPAP, the next level down from being ventilated.
Further weeks would pass under the amazing care of the TMBU team, with the dedicated nurses, doctors and consultants showing professionalism and compassion to us and other parents in the Unit.
8 weeks on, Brooks was moved to the High Dependency Nursery to continue his recovery and development. Despite showing encouraging signs of progress, other issue had become apparent - his sight. Due to the high amount of Oxygen and de-saturation's he experienced in the first few weeks of life, the blood vessels in his eyes had developed too aggressively and were beginning to pull on both Retina's.
Brooks would undergo laser surgery on both eyes to relieve the pressure on the Retina's and save his sight. This looked successful at first, but weeks later the blood vessels again showed to be causing complications - and further treatment would be likely.
When Brooks reached his due date at 15 weeks old he was big enough to be moved to the Royal Alex Children's hospital. He would then spend a further 2 months under the care of dedicated team at the Royal Alex.
Unfortunately, the issue with Brooks’s eyes would once again haunt us. Upon a routine inspection his Retina's were showing signs of detachment. The only option left was a transfer to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to see a world specialist in paediatric eye operations. The TMBU team would provide the transport to and from GOSH with their neonatal unit Ambulance.
Brooks had a procedure called a Vitrectomy, where the pressure in the eyes is relieved and the Retina's reattached. The operation was a success and after 2 days we were back at the Royal Alex.
On the 5th November after 169 days in hospital, we were finally able to take Brooks home.
It is only because of charities like the Early Birth Association assisting specialist units like TMBU that Brooks is here with us today.
Please give anything you can and thank you for taking the time to read our journey.