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Chill Out! Doctors ‘Freeze’ Baby to Keep Him Alive

Update Date: Feb 13, 2013 02:37 PM EST
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When Edward Ives was born, doctors feared that the baby would have only a 5 percent chance of surviving. Baby Edward was born with a condition called supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), which causes the heart to beat unnaturally quickly. In fact, when Edward was born, his heart was beating at 300 beats per minute - nearly double the normal rate of 160 beats per minute.

According to the Telegraph, Edward's doctors used an unusual solution: in order to slow down his heart, they "froze" him. Using a novel treatment, his doctors wrapped the baby in a cold gel. That dropped his temperature from 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) to 91.9 degrees Fahrenheit (33.3 degrees Fahrenheit), the New York Daily News reports. The treatment, they hypothesized, would slow down the baby's metabolism, sparing damage to important organs like the brain.

"It was horrible to see him lying there freezing in nothing but a nappy. He was heavily sedated so didn't move much, and he was cold to touch - it looked like he was dead," his mother, Claire Ives, said to the British outlet. "All I wanted to do was scoop him up and give him a warm cuddle. I just had to keep reminding myself that it was saving his life."

After two days of this treatment, it appeared that all would be well for baby Edward. However, when doctors raised his temperature again, his heart rate rose once more. The doctors were forced to freeze him once again for another two days. During the treatment, doctors also used a defibrillator to send shock waves to the baby's heart five times in an effort to keep his heart at a safe rhythm.

The pioneering treatment worked. At the end of the fourth day, Edward's temperature normalized. Following that success, doctors raised the baby's temperature by half a degree every 12 hours that the baby's improvement remained steady.

The whole treatment would likely never have been possible without the foresight of his mother Claire, a nurse. She said to the New York Daily News that, at 35 weeks pregnant, she felt her son's heart beating abnormally quickly.

According to Metro, subsequent tests showed her how right she was.

Edward is now a happy and healthy six-month-old.

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