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Machine, partnership saves Harnett newborn from death

Posted October 23, 2014
Updated October 24, 2014

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— Just weeks old, Sophie Murchison was diagnosed with enterovirus D68 – and nearly lost her life.

Her symptoms were a runny nose and a cough.

Her mother, Brandy, thought she had a cold.

Then things quickly worsened.

Sophie was taken to Moore Regional Hospital, then airlifted to WakeMed.

"I was devastated, I didn't understand what was going on, and with her not breathing…I am sorry,” Brandy McGehee said while wiping away tears.

Sophie was attached to large ventilators, but when doctors removed them, she inched closer to death.

“That is when (the doctor) told me there was nothing else he could do for her,” Brandy McGehee said. “He said ‘your daughter is very sick.’”

Brandy McGehee heard about enterovirus D68 on the news, and knew that children were dying from it.

Sophie had one hope left, and it was at Duke University Hospital – an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine.

"Since Sophie's lungs were not working, she was not able to bring oxygen into her blood and exhale carbon dioxide,” said Dr. Ira Cheifetz, a Duke pediatrics doctor. “We were able to bring in an ECMO machine to do just that."

ECMO machines are not new, but safely transporting a patient while attached to one is.

Dozens of medical workers were involved in transporting Sophie from WakeMed to Duke.

“Once it worked, we all breathed a sigh of relief,” said Dr. Mark Piehl, WakeMed Children’s Hospital director.

Both hospitals have a partnership where they share resources with one another.

Sophie was off the ECMO machine five days later.

After about five weeks in the hospital, she could go home as early as Friday.


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  • Vietnam Vet Oct 24, 2014

    Finally some good news in this crummy world for a change!!

  • Christopher Byrne Oct 24, 2014
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    What an uplifting and touching story. What a sweet baby girl.

  • Mariann Byknish Oct 24, 2014
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    Glad the child is doing well. BUT ECMO has been around for years and saved a multitude of lives before this. I don;t understand why this made news when others have not. Enterovirus D68 had been just one of the viruses affecting infants/children. ECMO has been used to treat Viruses including rhino-virus and others for years. Parents be aware of what is going on with your child and for babies KEEP THEM HOME WHEN NEWBORN AND WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY!

  • Wake1 Oct 24, 2014

    If they truly share resources, WakeMed should have one of these machines there to avoid the risky transfer. Glad this story had a positive ending!

  • housemanagercary Oct 24, 2014

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    Couldn't have said it better myself!

  • babylaceycarpenter Oct 24, 2014

    This is just awesome. I applaud Duke and Wake Hospitals, for working together to save lives. Also give an "attaboy" to Moore Regional, for recognizing the issue and acting quickly, to get her the care she needed.