Far away Dr. uses robot to help save OR baby

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by Erica Heartquist

wwltv.com

Posted on August 2, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 3 at 5:45 PM

SILVERTON, Ore. -- A newborn baby was brought back to life at the Silverton Hospital while one of the doctors was 40 miles away in Portland.

The doctors credit the power of technology.

Dr. Katie Townes McMann at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital helped resuscitate the baby through a telecommunication robot. That baby has now grown to become a healthy 14-pound baby boy.

Three and a half months ago, it was a whole different story. The baby's delivery came a month early and there were complications. "I was just crying the entire time going in for my cesarean," said mom Bethany Stadeli. Stadeli didn't know what was going to happen to her baby after her emergency surgery.

James Domst, M.D. was the doctor on call in Silverton. He got the call in the middle of the night, and dashed to the hospital.

"Once the baby was delivered, there were no breaths. The baby was blue and not moving. Those are the signs you don't want. So we brought the baby here and began the resuscitation."

That's when Dr. Domst called in OHSU Neonatologist Katie Townes McMann, D.O. who specializes in newborn intensive care. Doctor Townes McMann arrived instantly on a mobile two-way, robotic-telecommunication machine.

"Doctor Townes McMann was on the tele-machine observing and right there over our shoulder," said Doctor Domst.

He added, "She was there from the start and was able to literally see everything that was going on." The team of doctors and nurses worked together, with Townes McMann miles away. Together, they helped bring the baby back.

"Fortunately, everyone there was just doing a good job and I was just able to provide a little bit of extra input from my end," said Dr. Townes McMann. Within a few minutes, the baby was breathing normally and on his own.

Today, both doctors said he's not showing any signs of medical problems.

"I think it's amazing. I think they all did a very good job," said Stadeli. Stadeli later watched a video of everything that went on with her baby that day. 

"It was really hard to watch him not breathing and them doing chest compressions on him and everything," she said. "I'm just thankful for it. It's hard to grasp everything the machine can do. I don't know. It's crazy."

"This to me is just so advanced," Doctor Townes McMann added. "I can't really imagine what else they're going to think of."

Oregon Health & Science University has the tele-medicine machines in ten area hospitals.

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