‘We’re very lucky to still have him’ – Dublin baby flown to Sweden for life-saving care after RSV infection
The father of a baby who was flown to Sweden and put on life support after contracting RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) in recent weeks has said they are “very lucky to have him here”.
aby Liam Murphy contracted the virus at the end of October and his condition suddenly worsened, prompting his parents to rush him to Temple Street Children’s Hospital.
Liam’s dad Paul said “panic stations kicked in” when his son’s skin started to turn blue.
“We had a routine check up at the Beacon (hospital) which was totally unrelated and we tried to feed him after that and he wouldn’t take it,” Paul told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
“When we got back to Swords and took him out of the car seat, he was very pale, quite unresponsive and almost turning blue around the eyes at that moment – so yes, panic stations started.”
Liam was admitted on November 1st and is still in hospital today.
It later turned out he had RSV and it had saturated his lungs, so initially doctors tried a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask to improve airflow, but he was later intubated and placed on a ventilator.
“They use what’s called a CPAP mask, which is basically oxygen that actually has to be manually held on him, which was quite, quite scary and he didn’t like it at all, but it kept his lungs working,” added Paul.
“He was intubated shortly afterwards and we were told he had to be transferred to Crumlin (Children’s Hospital) so for that to happen they needed to intubate him, which is tubes down his throat to put him on a ventilator.”
I know there have been some health warnings on it but not enough
Unfortunately, the ventilator did not have the desired effect and Liam’s condition did not improve, so after five days in the Crumlin ICU, doctors placed Liam on an oscillator and told his parents that he would need to be flown to Sweden for emergency treatment – a process known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
“The virus was so aggressive and every x-ray we did showed the virus was getting heavier. ECMO is very, very serious advanced life support so it was something to hear that news.
“It wasn’t until we got there the next day … we found out that when he got there he had actually had to be resuscitated with CPR. So it was pretty scary,” Paul said.
Liam was on ECMO for 11 days in Stockholm at Karolinska University Hospital before his condition began to improve. He is now back in Dublin in Crumlin hospital recovering but his father wants messages about how dangerous a virus RSV can be.
“We still have to wait for various test results because he’s been through a lot but in the end it’s a positive story but one that was unnecessary. Certainly we feel the message could be stronger. I think RSV is something that the public, and certainly before this happened we would have considered maybe a common cold. My four-year-old and two-year-old got it and they were sick but it was nowhere near Liam,” Paul added.
Messages around the dangers of RSV should be circulated to schools, Paul said, as Liam ultimately contracted the virus from his sister, who is in primary school.
“We’re very lucky to have him here, you know, so the message can definitely be stronger. I know there’s been some health warnings on it but not enough. And also, I guess, just having to travel to Sweden for the treatment when it is available here in Ireland is something we feel is unnecessary. It was our only option.”