Big problems for small lungs  pg. 4

Thin line

Joshua Speck visits Odessa Settles,
R.N., who manages the BPD follow-up
program at Vanderbilt.
Photo by Susan Urmy
Odessa Settles, R.N., has been working with premature babies at Vanderbilt longer than almost anyone aside from Stahlman.

Settles helped the late Thomas Hazinski, M.D., establish the BPD clinic in 1984, and currently manages the BPD follow-up program at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

“The good news is some babies continue to grow and develop healthy lung tissue into their second year. The majority are able to come off of oxygen therapy by age 2,” she says. Others, like Joshua Speck, continue to struggle with serious chronic lung disease. 

Their numbers are growing.

Settles says the number of patients coming to the BPD clinic has more than doubled in the last five years from about 300 to more than 600.

“I am amazed at the strength and tenacity of the children who come to clinic,” she continues. “They still manage to smile, babble, laugh out loud, blow a kiss, play patty cake or reach out to be picked up.”

Advances in neonatal care have improved their chances for survival, yet “I want to know what you can do for ‘arrested development,’” Settles says. Arrested development, also called the “new BPD,” describes the abnormal lung tissue seen in very premature infants who inexplicably get worse after a “honeymoon” period in the NICU.

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