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Machine, partnership saves Harnett newborn from death

A Harnett County newborn with enterovirus D68 was near death until a machine at Duke University Hospital helped her recover.

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DURHAM, N.C. — 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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