When Dominic Herrick was born full term at Anne Arundel Medical Center, he appeared limp, had difficulty breathing, and began experiencing seizures shortly after being transferred to the NICU. The medical staff recognized the symptoms of birth-related brain injury and quickly began treatment with medicine and body cooling. The physicians recommended transfer to another hospital with expertise in critical neonatal medicine.

After discussing their options, Dominic’s parents chose Johns Hopkins Children’s Center because it offered a treatment known as hypothermia, or therapeutic cooling, shown to be effective in mitigating injury and preventing further brain damage in newborns. Within three hours of his birth, Dominic was transported by ambulance to Hopkins Children’s, where tests revealed that Dominic was born with a type of moderate brain injury called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy that occurs as a result of oxygen deprivation at some point during birth.

Hear about Dominic's HIE at Radiothon 2012

 

Dr. Frances Northington, a leading researcher in neonatal therapeutic cooling, was Dominic’s primary doctor in the NICU. The hypothermia treatment administered to Dominic lowered his body temperature and he was kept in a medically induced coma for 72 hours. Dominic was also treated with oxygen for his weak respiratory system and had his arm set to heal his collar bone broken during birth.

After three days, Dominic's body temperature was gradually raised to normal levels and he was weaned off of medications. Soon after waking, Dominic was alert, interactive, and eating very well, both from breastfeeding and from a bottle. Several tests of his brain function, including an MRI, were increasingly promising, showing little to no sustained brain injury and no seizures. His breathing also improved allowing him to progress from an oxygen hood, to a nasal cannula, to breathing on his own in 10 days.

Dominic stayed in the NICU for a total of 12 days. Today, Dominic is a talkative, energetic, happy and healthy 2-year-old with no signs of developmental delays.