The Borough of Hackney in East London, next door to the Olympic Park, holds some of London’s poorest neighborhoods and has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Britain. GE, an Olympic sponsor, decided to help. In 2009, the company donated high-tech incubators, fetal monitors, ultrasound scanners and other healthcare equipment valued at $8 million to a new neonatal ward that was being built by the Homerton University Hospital in Hackney. The GE machines would help doctors keep an eye on future moms and their babies, from pregnancy scans to labor and post delivery.
Today, the technology is already at work, helping Homerton doctors and nurses care for babies like the Pomerantz triplets. Anthony, Alice and Daniel were born in June at just 26 weeks, 14 weeks too early. Now 38 days old, Daniel and Anthony still need ventilator support to help them breathe. But their sister, Alice, is breathing on her own in her GE Giraffe Omnibed incubator. “The staff here is pretty amazing,” says their mother Marijana Pomerantz. “Walking inside the unit for the first time, with the beeps and pings, your heart skips a beat. But once you know what each machine means and what it does, it’s pretty easy. They are in the best place to be…It’s reassuring when you go home in the evening.”
The Giraffe incubators are keeping the triplets warm and maintaining the right humidity to simulate the mother’s womb. Staying warm and cozy is crucial. When body temperature drops, fragile premature babies consume oxygen and energy they need for development just to stay warm.
“The care starts immediately at birth,” says Dr. Kate Costeloe, consultant neonatologist and pediatrics professor at the hospital. “They come in from the labor ward and we settle them in and put them in an incubator to ensure they are warm enough and the air around them adequately moisturized and stable.”
Costeloe says the GE equipment is “absolutely terrific.”
“It gives us the opportunity to do everything in absolute state-of-the-art way. It will enable us to provide everything that those babies need…We can really not only look at the effects of what we are doing, but we can also help people to understand what problems there may or may not be, hopefully, for that baby in the future.”