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Surviving a Ventricular Septal Defect

I was born in Pune, my name is Hemant Gokhale and from the time of my birth I was diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect called a Ventricular Septal Defect. In this particular life-threatening defect the structure and the function of the heart is affected. The doctors had told my parents that perhaps it will close on it’s own over time, especially since in 1961 congenital heart disorder treatment like an open-heart surgery was not easy in India.

So, my parents decided that since there wasn’t really much option – they would try and muster up the patience and strength and hope that it closes. Unfortunately, it never closed. I lived with this Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) for over four decades. All I can say is that it was a complete nightmare. A heart murmur, bluish fingernails, breathing problems, swelling and constant fatigue no matter how many hours of sleep I got. Physical activities were just not possible, so my love for sports was fulfilled from the side-lines. I decided to focus on my studies and in 1981, I completed my post-graduation from Pune University.

Many years later, all these complaints took a major turn. In 2007, I was admitted at a local hospital in Pune for severe chest pains and uneasiness. The next three months were spent doing thorough investigations and check-ups. The doctors then suggested that surgical correction was necessary. Finally, at the age of 47, on June 20, 2007, I went in for an open-heart surgery for a VSD closure. I was grateful, because I was lucky enough to afford the treatment, which was definitely costly. It definitely changed my life and the quality of it.

I have experienced the pain. I believe that sharing my experiences will give other patients and parents more confidence and help them feel less isolated. The current statistics show around 8 in 100 babies born in India suffer from CHD – meaning there are more and more children and families who need support.

Since 2008, I have been living in Dubai with my family and I know I survived because of the congenital heart disorder treatment that I was able to afford. There are many families and children from lesser privileged homes who do not have the basic right to live due to finances. Giving back in the form of awareness, donations, whatever is in your reach towards Foundations like GF can truly make a difference towards Saving Little Hearts. It can change the life of a child and his/her entire family…

-Contributed by Hemant Gokhale