Vision for Life cameras beam in paediatric experts to save critically ill children

Gurinder Waraich and baby Rableen, who was assisted by new camera technology.
Gurinder Waraich and baby Rableen, who was assisted by new camera technology. Photo: Nick Moir

Gurinder Waraich's baby girl Rableen was starved for oxygen and in dire need of a blood transfusion when she was born at Canterbury Hospital in July. 

Mrs Waraich, 27, had been in tremendous pain before the emergency caesarean section, when her placenta detached from the wall of her uterus causing significant internal bleeding.

"I was so worried for my baby. Her heart [rate] started dropping. She had lost a lot of blood and she wasn't going to be able to breathe," she said. 

Rableen is "a normal happy, healthy baby now" after a dramatic start to life.
Rableen is "a normal happy, healthy baby now" after a dramatic start to life. Photo: Nick Moir

"Everything was going out of control."

Highly skilled clinical staff worked to resuscitate the newborn. They moved her to the nursery and laid her under the lens of an overhanging camera and the gaze of a team of neonatal experts. 

The Vision for Life camera transmitted a video feed of Rableen to the Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport Services (NETS). 

Paediatrician Dr Allan Kelly was able to draw on their expertise to help make the decisions to treat and stabilise Rableen before they transferred her to Royal North Shore's neonatal intensive care unit. 

"They could see her for themselves, which added a lot to the assessment," Dr Kelly said.

There are only three hospitals that have paediatric intensive care units in NSW, the Westmead and Sydney Childrens hospitals and the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle. 


The state's seven hospitals with neonatal intensive care units are all in major metropolitan areas. NETS has been a crucial link between smaller or regional hospitals, and these specialised ICUs for critically ill children. 

Before the cameras, treating teams would call NETS on the phone. They would have no visual of the patients.

A headset frees the treating doctors' hands to attend to their patient as they talk to the NETS team.

One of the cameras that have been rolled out across the state.
One of the cameras that have been rolled out across the state. Photo: Nick Moir

"When everyone has a visual it's much easier to communicate," Dr Kelly said. 

"It provides additional medical expertise and reassurance during situations that are enormously stressful," he said. 

The cameras also bolster continuity of care when a NETS team would need to collect a child and transport them to one of the specialised ICUs. 

They also help prevent unnecessary transfers by advising the treating team remotely, Dr Kelly said. 

The three cameras each installed in Canterbury Hospital's emergency department, children's ward and Special Care Nursery are the last of a statewide roll out across 96 NSW hospitals funded by Variety - the Children's Charity and its donors the Shirley Ward Foundation and the Rock Foundation. 

Variety expected Vision for Life technology will help treat up to 100 children per hospital per year.

Previously, specialists would have to diagnose remotely over the phone with the visuals of the patient. 

The pilot system was installed at Campbelltown and Liverpool hospitals in 2012. 

Between October 2016 and August 2017, Canterbury had transferred 32 children from its nursery. The vast majority of cases involved the camera, Dr Kelly said. 

Almost four months old and after two weeks in RPA's NICU and ten days at Sydney Childrens Hospital, Rableen is thriving.

"She is like a normal happy, healthy baby now," Ms Waraich said.

"We know the cameras helped save her life. We are very grateful for the technology."

The Chief Executive of Sydney Local Health District, Dr Teresa Anderson, said the increasing local population meant hospitals seeing more babies and children than ever before.

"[The] Vision For Life cameras help us in delivering the right treatment at the right place at what can be a stressful time for the families we care for," Dr Anderson said. 

Variety – the Children's Charity NSW CEO David Sexton said the roll out meant all children "no matter where they live, can access the best healthcare we have available".

"This technology will touch the lives of so many kids and their families, whether they live in the city or the bush," he said.