Golden Window for babies at risk

Published: 16 September 2013 at 15:08

Complex world of neonatal unit is focus of Anglia Ruskin multi-screen documentary

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A unique multi-screen film exploring therapeutic cooling for babies at risk of brain injury, and the complex and emotional world of neonatal intensive care, is receiving its first screening at Anglia Ruskin University.

Directed by BAFTA award-winning filmmaker Shreepali Patel and filmed at The Rosie Maternity Hospital in Cambridge, The Golden Window will go on show as an art installation at the Ruskin Gallery on the Cambridge campus from 18-28 September.

Patel, a Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Production at Anglia Ruskin, was given access to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at The Rosie Hospital by Consultant Neonatologist Dr Topun Austin.

Her film focuses on the tension between science and emotion within NICU, and the benefits of using hypothermia to treat newborn babies at risk of brain damage following traumatic asphyxia during birth.  Cooling the body from 37 degrees to 33.5 degrees delays the death of brain cells, providing a 72-hour window to reduce possible neurological damage to infants who have suffered perinatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

The Golden Window – which was recorded during a single 72-hour period and includes interviews with nurses, doctors and parents – follows the journey of Baby J, who was being cooled during the course of the filming.

Patel said:

“I have always been drawn to the social, ethical and cultural issues around biomedical science, and prior to filming I spent eight months researching the subject and visiting the team at The Rosie.
“I first met Dr Topun Austin in March 2011 and explained my interest in exploring the treatment through the creation of an audiovisual project and, because of the sensitive nature of the subject matter, we worked together to design the production structure.
The Golden Window explores the state of suspended animation and the unconscious and conscious journey experienced by newborn babies undergoing therapeutic cooling.  Although HIE isn’t particularly well known, it affects roughly one in 500 babies so is an incredibly serious issue.
“I hope the final film captures the cumulative experience of being within the unit where a bleep on the machines means something different to a parent, nurse or doctor.  The parents described the unit as a ‘bubble world’, and hopefully the film offers a unique insight into the expertise and emotions that are involved in this difficult, and at times traumatic, 72 hours.”

Dr Austin said:

“Neonatal Intensive Care is a high-tech environment where scientific advances are making a real difference to babies.  However, the emotional impact of having a critically ill baby on intensive care cannot be underestimated, and it is important not to lose sight of basic care and compassion, not just on NICU but in the health service in general.
The Golden Window is a unique collaboration to try and explain science through art, and convey complex issues in a relevant and powerful way.”

The Golden Window will be on display at the Ruskin Gallery until 28 September, and a shorter version of the film will be shown at documentary festivals later in the year.  Entry to the exhibition, which makes full use of the gallery’s digital screens and state-of-the-art Bose audio system, is free.  Further details are available at www.anglia.ac.uk/ruskingallery