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House episode
"Maternity"
House-Maternity.jpg
Episode no. HOU-104
Airdate December 7, 2004
Writer(s) Peter Blake
Director(s) Newton Thomas Sigel
Guest star(s) Hedy Burress
Ever Carradine
Final diagnosis Echovirus 11 (one of children dying)
Episode chronology
←  Previous Next  →
"Occam's Razor" "Damned If You Do"

"Maternity" is the fourth episode of the first season of House, which premiered on the FOX network on December 7, 2004. A number of newborn babies acquire unknown diseases simultaneously. House and his aides must race against the clock to save them and avoid further spread of the disease.

Plot

In the hospital, the Hartig parents are concerned because their baby girl, Maxine, is spitting up but hasn't eaten anything yet. Baby Maxine suffers a seizure. Later, the OBGYN who was in the room recounts the incident to another doctor in the lounge. He discusses the baby’s bowel obstruction. House overhears their chat and quickly leaves, suspecting something worse.

House presents Maxine to Wilson as Exhibit A. Exhibit B is Baby Hausen, another newborn who is also ill. House thinks it is a nosocomial infection, but Cuddy doesn't believe it's the beginning of an epidemic. House tours his team in the maternity ward to check the other newborns in the hospital, and they find one more baby with a sudden fever and similar symptoms. Later, they find another infant who is developing symptoms as well. Cuddy finally realizes the truth of House's prediction and quarantines the maternity ward.

House and crew discuss four sick babies and the symptoms. With a spike in fever and low blood pressure, these children could be dead in one day. The group thinks it might be a bacterial infection. Since there's no time to wait for test results, House orders two treatments to be started. Each baby gets an MRI. Nothing shows up on the scan, so the doctors continue administering two antibacterials. One of them starts causing the kidneys to shut down in two of the four babies. House says there’s no point in guessing, so they take Baby Hartig off the aztreonam medication and Baby Chin-Lupino off the vancomycin, deciding which baby will get which drug with a coin toss.

Dr. Cuddy and a hospital administration refuse to allow House to change the treatments without informing the parents. He pleads that this experiment will save at least five more babies, so after some thought, Cuddy painfully gives him the green light. Later, the Chen-Lupino baby's health begins to worsen with a falling heart rate and blood pressure. The doctors rush in and try to shock the baby back to life, to no avail. The aztreonam doesn't work. House instructs his staff to cover the rest of the babies with vancomycin.

House instructs Cameron to tell the deceased baby's parents (Kim Chen and Judy Lupino), and that their son has saved five more babies' lives. But when she and Wilson approach the parents, Cameron tenses up, almost unable to speak, prompting Wilson to reveal the shocking news. The two women are devastated, with Cameron feeling sorry for them and House completely disappointed with what she's done.

Chase nervously informs the team that the vancomycin isn't working either as Maxine is getting worse. House racks his brain to think of what this disease is, and decides to perform an autopsy on Baby Chen-Lupino and devises a theory that it is a virus that is affecting the babies' hearts. Foreman complains that the team is in trouble, as it could be any one of thousands of viruses, and would take months to test for them. Chase, who specializes in intensive care medicine, tells House that due to the smaller amount of blood they are dealing with, they can only run five or six tests on the babies. So House tries to narrow down the list of possibilities, and ends up with eight. House also has Cuddy take blood from the one healthy newborn in the hospital to use as a control group.

Shockingly, the sick babies all test positive for Echovirus 11, CMV, and Parvovirus B19. The healthy baby tests positive for Echo and CMV antibodies. House realizes that these infants still have their mothers' blood and immune systems, so he orders a test on the mothers to see what they have antibodies for. Whatever the women are missing is what is killing their kids. After more testing, the doctors settle on Echovirus 11. They have an experimental anti-virus in the hospital and give it a shot.

When Cameron is in House's office, he begins questioning her about her behavior concerning this case, and deduces that she has either gone through not a lot of death, or too much death. He hits a nerve with her when he suggests that she may have lost a baby. Calling him a bastard, she indignantly walks out on him. This is one of the few times that House is seen as truly caring about his employees, though it shows more in his face than in his actions. We learn later on in the series the cause of Cameron's hardship with loss.

That night, House observes an elderly hospital volunteer coughing and wiping her nose as she pushes around a cart of baby toys and blankets, and appears to realize that she was the original source of the virus. House's apparent visualization is that she had transferred the virus to plush stuffed animals and had put them against the babies' faces, the virus transferring each time from the stuffed animal to the baby.

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