Dozens of children are alive today thanks to a breakthrough study done at University Hospital, which will likely set the standard for kids born with gastrointestinal problems, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.
The research involved the same fish oil that can be bought as a supplement. It was given to critically ill patients as nutrition, and prevented the vast majority from needing a liver transplant.
"We started the trial and then we started seeing that the child’s liver disease was improving over time," Dr. Cynthia Blanco says.
Now the FDA has given approval for the supplement they used, dubbed Omegaven.
"This is amazing. It's one of the best feelings you can get," she said.
Babies who are born premature typically have many health risks. The gastrointestinal system develops in the last few weeks which in some cases leads to long nutrition delivered through an IV. That damages the liver, meaning many moms like Adriana Zepeda are left with few choices but a liver transplant.
"It was ether put her on this study or she would be placed on the waiting list," she explains.
Within a few weeks of receiving fish oil, her daughter made an amazing rebound. So did other children in the trial. Nine out of ten survived.
This week, Dr. Blanco met with some those first families to be involved for a party, celebrating the move by the FDA.
Now, Omegaven can be mass produced and given to pediatric patients.
Zepeda is just glad other moms won’t have to go through what they did."We're just so excited that they're going to have the opportunity," she says.
And for Dr. Blanco, she says it's what she's always dreamed about.
"This is why I'm a physician."