400 Infants & Preterm Babies Survive Respiratory Distress Syndrome


Maternal Health

One of the most critical medical issues that premature babies face is the development of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), an often fatal condition that makes breathing difficult.

An incredible advancement in the fight against RDS was the development of surfactant replacement therapy. The treatment has decreased mortality rates dramatically – in some cases, from nearly 100 percent for babies with RDS to less than 10 percent.

Still, a large percentage of the world’s population lacks access to this life-saving medication.

Thanks to an in-kind donation from AbbVie of Survanta — a surfactant replacement therapy — Direct Relief provided 500 vials of the medicine to one of its partners in India, the Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre (MMHRC).

MMHRC’s Pediatrics and Neonatology Department contains a fully equipped, 25-bed neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) ,which admits an average of 65 preterm and sick babies each month.

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Since receiving the shipment earlier this year, the hospital reports that Survanta has already helped to save over 400 infants and preterm babies:

Since we were provided with Survanta, babies whose families cannot afford this essential medication can now receive this therapy. The babies are getting better quickly and being discharged in stable condition. With this surfactant therapy, all the babies recovered from respiratory distress have survived without neurological deficits.” – Arulmony Thangaswamy, Director, Research & Development, MMHRC

Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre


MMHRC is an 800-bed nonprofit multispecialty hospital and medical research facility that serves the regions of Madurai and greater southern Tamil Nadu.

The facility opened the first charitable AIDS ward in the area, provides heart surgery free-of-charge for children with congenital heart diseases, and operates a pediatric oncology unit that treats thousands of young patients facing a variety of cancers and blood disorders. In addition to the activities of the main hospital, MMHRC runs a number of community sub-centers that provide villagers with primary and secondary medical care and operates a telemedicine unit – funded by Direct Relief – that enables specialists at the hospital to provide diagnosis and treatment recommendations to patients in distant or remote areas.

The hospital has also been involved in providing medical services in response to emergency situations that occur throughout the region. Direct Relief worked extensively with MMHRC to respond to medical needs following the South Asian tsunami, several destructive cyclones, and widespread dengue fever outbreaks.

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