Thanks to your donations, earlier this year we provided over £20,000 in funding to purchase three Transcutaneous Carbon Dioxide monitors, three digital sensors and mounts for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Leeds Children’s Hospital.

This equipment allows staff to continuously monitor carbon dioxide levels in babies with respiratory problems from 28 weeks old to help protect brain development and give them the best possible care and treatment.

Carbon dioxide is cleared by healthy lung tissue and can build up when there is respiratory failure. This effects blood flow to the brain and can put babies at risk of suffering from Periventricular-intraventricular hemorrhage (P/IVH), a bleed on the brain.

Before we funded this specialist equipment, a baby’s CO2 levels were monitored by taking blood either by arterial blood gases (ABG) or heel prick tests from their foot. Many of these small babies have fragile skin and a weakened immune system so having pin pricks in their feet can cause pain and put more vulnerable babies at risk of developing anaemia and infections.

If there is an abnormality in a baby’s carbon dioxide levels this will be picked up by the monitors and alert staff, allowing them to act fast and respond to any problems much quicker.

The CO2 monitors help reduce the risk of infection, reduce pain and neurological damage meaning that babies are able to return home with their parents sooner and are less likely to require long-term follow up care in hospital.

This new technology is also much more cost effective and over the course of a year will save the hospital over £56,000. In some cases, babies who would have needed as many as five blood gas tests per day, now just need one test thanks to the accuracy of the monitors.

Alison Gaythorpe, Trainee Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner on the unit said, “We’re so grateful to Leeds Hospitals Charity for funding these remarkable pieces of kit. Our team has been absolutely blown away by the difference these monitors have made to some of the most vulnerable babies we care for. In the near future, we hope to extend the use of these monitors on some of our most at risk babies as young as 24 weeks gestation.”