While being born with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) is a difficult place to be in, the blessing is that the treatment for it, while expensive, ensures that one can move forward to live a fulfilling life devoid of health complications.
In 1990, I was operated upon by Dr KM Cherian and a team of Czechoslovakian doctors for my CHD condition; Transposition of Great Arteries (TGA) via the Senning procedure.
Let me tell you a little bit about the heart condition that I was suffering from – TGA, a rare but serious congenital heart defect, in which the two main arteries leaving the heart are reversed (transposed).
Normally, the aorta leaves the left ventricle carrying oxygen-rich (red) blood to the body, and the pulmonary artery leaves the right ventricle carrying oxygen-poor (blue) blood to the lungs to get oxygen. The reversal in TGA changes the way blood circulates through the body, causing a shortage of oxygen in the blood leaving the heart going to the rest of the body.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), TGA affects roughly 5 out of every 10,000 babies. Untreated, more than 50% of infants with TGA will die in the first month of life, 90% in the first year.
The Senning procedure, which was used in my treatment, is an Atrial Switch heart operation performed to treat transposition of great arteries. It is named after its inventor, the Swedish cardiac surgeon Åke Senning (1915–2000), also known for implanting the first permanent cardiac pacemaker in 1958. A baffle is created between the two chambers of the heart. The left side behaves like the right side and vice versa. A baffle is a tunnel or wall artificially constructed within the heart or great vessels for the purpose of redirecting blood flow in cases of congenital heart defects
I consider Cherian sir to be my god, for it was through him that I got a new life.
My parents too are deeply grateful to him for curing their son and upholding their wishes of their son leading a healthy and satisfying life.
Thus, what I wish to highlight as a CHD survivor is the fact that access to treatment at the right time can ensure that one can go forward to living a quality life, at par with those around us. I was indeed lucky that my parents were able to afford my treatment. Today, I work as a software engineer and live a life as ‘normal’ as those around me. Perhaps the only thing that is different is that I am always conscious of the immense wealth that is to be found in a healthy body .
I am truly touched that organisations like Genesis Foundation exist and are striving to make a difference in the lives of children affected by CHD who do not get access to CHD treatment due to financial constraints. Heart treatment for underprivileged children is a largely neglected area, and I am delighted with the work that the foundation is doing.
I encourage one and all to donate towards heart disorder to help families who will otherwise have to face the loss of their precious child.
I wish GF every success and will attempt to support all their endeavours to the utmost of my capacity.
- Contributed by Krishna Santosh