no -- Another
both of her sisters before her, Liliana became rather jaundiced
as a result of an ABO blood-type incompatibility between her and her
mother, causing a condition known as ABO hemolytic disease of the
newborn, or ABO
our first girl, Miriana, was born, she had to go back into the hospital
phototherapy, her condition became so serious that they were
threatening to transfer her to Portland for a blood transfusion.
Poor Michele had to sit in the nursery with her (and all the
other babies and their visitors) for two
days, because they wouldn't give her a room -- or even a cot;
she had to try to sleep sitting up. It
wasn't fun at all. This time, it would be even more miserable
for everyone involved, because we now have 4 other children
rather than just one, and because
Michele had a terrible cold, so she wouldn't even be allowed in the
nursery, and we'd have to turn poor Liliana over to the hospital staff,
and they'd have to try to bottle-feed her.
there was a better way. After many hours of research we felt
had a comfortable grasp on the condition and the various styles of
light treatment that are popularly used, and we decided to try the "do
it yourself" approach.
The ideal light used for
will have an emission spectrum that more or less corresponds with the
absorption spectrum of the bilirubin compounds you are trying to help
break down (That's slightly simplistic, but it will do); most of the
energy emmited by the light is targeted at the problem, not just making
the room bright.
Lacking the "Special Blue" (Philips color
code BB) fluorescent
tubes popularly used by
hospitals, affectionately referred to as "Bili Lights" -- and since she
wasn't very bad yet -- we decided
to throw what we had at her to try to help ward off a serious
If you don't have a rifle, use a shotgun:
spectrum lamps. They're not all blue, but at
least they emit some
blue! This is like the time-honored practice of
laying your baby out in the sun, except that they don't get a sunburn.
pulled the desk lamps off of our piano & organ, and fitted one
with the only daylight tubes we had; the other fixture had a pair of
cool-whites in it. This wasn't exactly ideal, but
was better than the plant- and warm-white tubes that were in
a picture of Liliana under her
first set of lamps:
the end of the day Sunday, there was no improvement -- in fact she was
worse. First thing Monday morning, I was on the phone.
I called all over the Portland area before finally finding
someone with 6 tubes in stock. I immediately drove down and
picked them up, then stopped by Home Depot for a trio of utility light
fixtures. Jeepers, 2' fluorescents are expensive!
Anything smaller than the standard 4' is ridiculously priced.
All together, I spent $200 on the project, but it was well
I got home and spent the next several
hours assembling the light fixtures, mounting them on a board, and
wiring them. As soon as they were finished, we placed the
contraption in our bedroom on top of a pair of large plastic tubs with
encyclopedias stacked on top to adjust the height. Underneath
was another plastic tub to serve as the "baby tray", that we could
slide in and out. Here's what it looked like:
Michele manufactured an eye shield from the leg of a worn-out pair of
pants and a piece of Velcro®.
Liliana was stripped to her diaper, and that's where she
spent the rest of the day, as well as the night.
you can see Liliana basking under "The Real McCoy".
The scene looks like something out of "E.T.", doesn't it?
pretty strange sleeping in a room filled with an eerie blue glow.
120 watts of fluorescents put out a lot of light, even
if it is all blue! It's painful to look at them directly.
Between the blue glow, and the little noises that
Liliana made throughout the night, it really
felt like I was trying to sleep through some science fiction movie.
the end of the next day, she was looking 100% better, and was
eliminating large amounts of junk from her system, as evidenced by the
plentiful green excrement. Here you can see her with a little
bit of an orange "mask" where the eye shield covered her face, but the
rest of her body is looking much more normal.
Over the next few days we
placed her under the lamps during her naps, but let her (and us) sleep
in the dark. This maintained her improvement without
overdoing it (we didn't want the poor thing to dry up like a prune!),
and allowed us to get some much-needed rest.
the lights made all the difference in the world. Had I not
been able to obtain them that day, we would have had to admit her to
the hospital to start treatment soon enough to prevent brain damage.
I am so
grateful that I was able to find those!
apparatus doesn't quite look the same as the bili lights that the
hospital uses (and I'm sure cost much less than 1/10th
the price), and it was assembled by simple folk who live on a hill, I'm
afraid we have no choice but to call them:
another view of the light assembly:
...and a closeup of the tubes.
Thanks to Kay at SunLan Lighting in Portland for keeping a
few on hand!
Naturally, you should consult a competent medical
professional (just like the bulbs say) before attempting such treatment.
am neither a lawyer, nor a doctor, and this page is here to share a
story, not give any kind of professional advice.
try this at home, kids.
yada, yada, yada...
to birth announcement