Bravehearts fight through COVID-19
May 14, 2021 | Contributed by Monisa Nadeem
Starting 2020 with a bang and all the new year celebrations, no one had anticipated the spread of Covid-19 pandemic. Today, almost a year and a half later, it has reached every possible community on our planet. From disruption in our work and social lives, to a ginormous health crisis and economic uncertainty, the pandemic has affected us all.
As a Foundation working towards heart treatment for under privileged children, being in the healthcare sector, Covid-19 has massively impacted us as well. From supporting a reduced number of heart defect cases because of lockdowns and travel restrictions to no longer being able to conduct any screening camps. Our partner hospitals are only taking emergency cases of Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) keeping in mind the country-wide oxygen shortage and most hospitals being converted to Covid wards.
But even during these difficult times, we’ve drawn our strength and encouragement from the children who have been supported by us. Not only were a few of them diagnosed with a heart defect, but they even tested positive for Covid-19 and successfully withstood both. Having said that, at the Foundation we provided all necessary psychosocial support to the families, because the anxiety of testing positive for Covid, along with their children being diagnosed with a heart defect is a lot to come to terms with. But the sheer resilience of these children reminds me of a quote by Buckminster Fuller that ‘There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly’.
Read on to draw strength from these little heroes.
Take the case of three month old Nishanth from Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu. He was diagnosed with Transposition of Great Arteries with Ventricular Septal Defect. It meant that the two main blood vessels of the body, the Aorta and Pulmonary Artery were originating from the wrong chambers of the heart for him and there was also a hole in between the lower chambers of the heart as well. He tested positive for Covid 19 right before his surgery and it had to be postponed because of it. But he recovered from it and had a successful open-heart surgery.
The pandemic didn’t even spare one-month oldBaby of Priyanka from Ranchi, Jharkhand. She had Pulmonary Artesia, which is a critical duct dependent congenital heart defect where the pathway to the lungs from the right ventricle is not fully developed. Burdened by the financial cost of the treatment, Baby of Priyanka’s parents found us online while searching for NGOs supporting heart treatment for under privileged children and we referred them to Narayana Health, Kolkata for treatment. After testing negative for Covid-19, she was operated for Patent Ductus Arteriosus Ductal stenting. The little girl’s trouble didn’t end there because post-procedure, she developed a chest infection. Eventually with the helpof antibiotics, Baby of Priyanka’s condition improved steadily.
Nine-month-old Faiza Khan from Jaipur, Rajasthan also had to go through a similar ordeal. Before she could be treated for Ventricular Septal Defect, which is a type of Congenital Heart Defect, where there is a hole in between the lower chambers of the heart, she had to fight Coronavirus. But she beat them both, the virus as well as the hole in her heart and is leading a healthy life of a toddler now.
Before two-year-old Deepesh Pehalajwani could be treated for Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), he tested positive for Covid-19 as well. The little boy needed an urgent surgery for PDA, wherein, an abnormal connection occurs between the Descending Aorta and the Pulmonary Artery along with Coarctation of Aorta that results in obstruction in the Aorta, which is the key vessel responsible for carrying oxygen rich blood in the body. But the virus came in-between and waiting for a month for the surgery until he tested negative was an extremely worrisome period for his parents. Today, he ensures that both his parents are after him as he’s learning to run around and throw a ball, which has become his favourite activity.
I feel emotional as I write about these Covid and heart warriors because as adults we often tend to lose heart so easily when faced with any adversity. Heck, even the monotony of the last one and a half years and multiple lockdowns has affected various aspects of my personal life and relationships. But these children, that I get to know through our Foundation, inspire me with strength, love, trust and the faith to ride out storms. They make me believe that together our world will heal sooner or later, as we hold on tightly to hope!