Volunteers donate machine to Lufkin hospital to combat jaundice

By Holley Nees - email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A donated machine means some East Texas parents will be able to bring their newborns home sooner.

"We all felt that the lights we bought for labor and delivery were a high priority so that we could help with the babies and help them get strong and go home with their moms and not have to spend more time in the hospital," said Don Newland, president of the Memorial Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary.

Neon blue LED lights are designed to help speed a newborn's recovery from jaundice.

"Jaundice is the yellow color of the skin and in newborns what happens is they're born with excess red cells and a rather immature liver," Pediatrician Ghazala Khan said. "When the red cells break down they result in the release of a product called bilirubin. When this bilirubin goes and deposits all over the body including the skin it causes the yellow color."

She says the technology eliminates the requirement for a baby to have a mature liver.

"This blue wavelength converts the bilirubin into a form that can be peed out," Khan said.

The speedy recovery was so important to hospital volunteers, they were willing to raise $10 thousand for three machines.

"We feel so much better that we give back to the community because a lot of the volunteers have lived here in Lufkin their entire lives and they want to give back to the community," Newland said.

Jaundice occurs in about 60 percent of newborns, so it's important to have a more advanced way to help those that need the photo therapy.

"We have two babies and we only have two machines and we think 'oh my gosh, we have to put a third one on, we'll have to take another one off,'" Khan said. "Now we don't have that concern."

For Newland, helping the community's newest members means one day they may be able to return the favor.

"We hope they grow up and maybe they'll take our place as volunteers and be able to do the same thing for their community," Newland said.

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