Bravehearts of the Foundation: Ithika
April 15, 2020 | Contributed by R Srivatsan
Two-months-old, Ithika Bose is a baby girl who was born weighing around 3kgs. She is the second child born to couple Mathunika and Subhas who live in Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu. The family have an elder son who is four years old. They all live with the children’s paternal grandparents as Subhas is currently not employed while he pursues his master’s degree. Ithika’s grandfather is a farmer and is the sole earning member in the joint family.
Around the first week of March, 2020 – Mathunika noticed that her child was unable to feed for a long duration of time and was also showing difficulty in breathing. She never faced such issues with her first born, so she was naturally panicked and knew it was not normal.
Both Subhas and her took their baby girl to a local pediatrician, who upon examination detected a murmur in the baby’s heart. He suspected a congenital heart defect and immediately referred her to Dr Mani Ram Krishna (Pediatric Cardiologist, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Kochi). He frequently conducts an outreach clinic in Thanjavur so this would be far more convenient for the family as it would save travel costs.
Ithika was seen by Dr Mani Ram Krishna and an echo was done which concluded the diagnosis – ALCAPA (anomalous origin of left main coronary artery from pulmonary artery) with severe left ventricular dysfunction. She had a congenital heart defect.
ALCAPA is the most common cause of Myocardial Ischemia and infarction in children. It causes myocardial infarction, mitral insufficiency, congestive heart failure. If untreated the child does not survive. This condition warrants early surgery. Both parents were counselled and also explained about the risk of the surgery.
A huge challenge for the family was the state borders were closed due to the pandemic COVID-19 so going to Amrita Institute was not possible. Dr Mani Ram got in touch with Dr Vijayakumar at GKNM Hospital in Coimbatore and explained the entire situation to him.
Considering the condition of the child, she had to be shifted in an ambulance for chances of survival to be maximised. Through his connection with the Red Cross Society, Dr Mani Ram arranged an ambulance and the baby girl was shifted to GKBM Hospital. Subhas and his mother accompanied the child in the ambulance and as soon as they arrived she was admitted into the ICU facility.
Subhas is pursuing his post-graduation, so the family live day-to-day on his fathers’ salary of Rs 3333. Arranging a sum of Rs 3 Lakhs for the surgery was well over their means and they felt they were fighting one fire after another with no solution at hand. In dire straits. They pledged a small piece of land they owned to raise some money. In the meantime, Dr Vijayakumar reached out to us at Genesis Foundation for financial support. With support from our CSR partnership with HT Parekh Foundation we were able to bridge the gap in the funds and ensure the family were not burdened further with such stresses which were not in their control.
Ithika was operated on the start of India’s lockdown on 25th March 2020. She was extubated on 27th March and post-surgery period was uneventful so she was discharged in a stable condition on the last day of March. She has been put on long-term follow-up to track her progress.
The family are grateful that with combined efforts during a national emergency their baby’s life was saved.