Bravehearts of the Foundation: Baby of Asha Devi
May 21, 2020 | Contributed by Arti Barwa
Baby of Asha Devi is the 3rd child of Asha Devi and Gangu Ram from Sirmaur in Himachal Pradesh. He had a birth weight of 3 kilograms, while being born in a government hospital. He has 2 elder sisters. A day after his birth, the doctors observed that the baby was showing symptoms of breathlessness. The doctor suspected a congenital heart defect.
Echo was done, and it was discovered that the baby had a complex heart defect. There was a major obstruction in one of the branches of Ascending Aorta. Thus, there was lesser blood flow to the lower part of the body. The baby required urgent open heart surgery. Since there was no facility in Himachal Pradesh to do such a complex surgery, the baby was referred to Artemis Hospital in Gurugram for the treatment.
With the whole country in a lockdown, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, transporting the baby was a big challenge. Gangu Ram, being a farmer by profession made a monthly income of INR 2500. It was beyond his capacity to pay for an ambulance. The treating doctor in Sirmaur and a few of his friends from the Red Cross arranged an ambulance. The baby, Gangu Ram and Asha Devi embarked on their journey as the elder sisters were left behind at a relatives house. The journey to Gurgaon was covered in 7 hours, with each minute being crucial for the baby of Asha Devi’s survival.
On arrival, the baby was admitted in the ICU. Echo was done once again. It was also seen that the left ventricle which pumps pure blood through the Aortic Valve into Aorta was small and not properly developed. Another major concern was the PDA was getting closed. When a child is in the womb, the Posterior Descending Artery (PDA) supplies blood to the lungs. In normal children, the PDA closes in a couple of days after birth. In this case, if the PDA would have closed, the baby would have died. So in order to keep the PDA open, the baby was administered on a medicine called Prostaglandin. It was also seen that the baby had low urine output. Hence peritoneal dialysis was started. The baby’s condition improved in a couple of days and he was fit for surgery. The doctors explained the risk of surgery to the parents. After that, help was sought from Genesis Foundation. It was beyond the means of the parents to arrange a sum of INR 2,20,000 for the surgery. But with British Petroleum’s aid, Genesis Foundation was able to help financially, at the earliest.
The baby underwent a procedure called Norwood Stage I. In this surgery, the aorta was rebuilt as it was very small. Then the pure blood is redirected through the new aorta and a new pathway is created to direct the impure blood from the right ventricle to the lungs. This is achieved by placing a tube shaped graft between the Right Ventricle and Pulmonary Artery, called the Sano Shunt. The surgery lasted for about 10 hours.
Post surgery, the baby developed a chest infection, so he was started on a high dosage of antibiotics. Slowly his condition improved. The hospital was kind enough to give a room to the parents. And the doctors pooled in money to arrange food for the parents.
Thus, the baby was in the hospital for a couple of weeks. He was discharged in a stable condition with the requirement of long-term follow up. His second surgery will be due in a year’s time.