Nishanth and his struggle with Congenital Heart Defect
October 26, 2020
Balamurugan Nagarajan and Anitha live in Thiruvarur district in Tamil Nadu and are a newly married couple. They’re only one year into their marriage and have been thrown hurdles they could never have imagined. Anitha gave birth to their first born – B Nishanth on 2nd July this year, amid the global COVID-19 pandemic they thought, maybe a ray of light. He was born weighing 2.5kg at a Government hospital in Thanjavur. However, three days after he was born the doctors noticed that he was showing signs of breathing difficulty and Anitha noticed that he wasn’t taking feed properly. The doctors suggested doing an Echo as they suspected a Congenital Heart Defect. The first hurdle was thrown at them as the results showed a major heart defect. The two main blood vessels in the body – the aorta and pulmonary artery were originating from the wrong chambers of his heart. Over and above this, there was also a hole in between the lower chambers of his heart. The final diagnosis was – Transposition of Great Arteries (TGA) with a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD).Balamurugan and Anitha just couldn’t believe it. How could so much joy turn into fear and despair within days?The baby was kept in the hospital for a couple of weeks, so the couple naturally stayed back with him. They spent Rs 8000 towards all the medications that were required and waited for him to become stable, after which he was discharged. The family were told to come back after a year for follow up. This gave them some hope that perhaps everything would remain okay for a year.
Balamurugan’s parents stay with the family, so they were elated to see their first grand-child finally. A month passed and the family held a naming ceremony where he was given the name Nishanth. Balamurugan resumed his work as a farmer and the couple felt maybe there was some hope for normalcy. But this was short-lived as within a week, Nishanth started to have breathing difficulty again. They returned to the Government hospital where the treating pediatrician referred the baby to Dr Mani Ram Krishna, Pediatric Cardiologist at RK Hospital in Thanajvur itself. He repeated an echo and noticed that along with TGA and VSD, the pulmonary valve was extremely narrow, known as pulmonary stenosis. Dr Mani Ram Krishna explained to the family that the only way of saving their son was for an emergency open-heart surgery. He referred them to GKNM Hospital, in Coimbatore – a partner hospital of Genesis Foundation.
The next day itself, the family left for Coimbatore in a private cab – a journey of over 300kms. As they arrived, Dr Vijayakumar, Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon at the hospital examined him. A COVID test was mandatory for mother and son. If things couldn’t be any worse already, the family was faced with their second big hurdle – Nishanth was COVID positive. The surgery had to be postponed. Anitha and Balamurugan returned back home, at a loss of words and feeling completely empty.
They remained in quarantine at a relative’s house and waited it out. During this time, Anitha mustered up the strength all parents have – especially mothers. She knew she could not give up, her faith was reborn that her son was going to be okay. They returned to GKNM Hospital, Nishanth was tested again and thankfully his results were negative. They could move ahead with the surgery. The estimated amount for saving his life was the final hurdle – Balamurugan is a farmer earning Rs 5000 per month, he had no means to pay the full amount. With help from his family and selling jewellery he put together Rs 80,000 and surrendered to the doctors for support. Dr Vijayakumar reached out to the Foundation requesting donation for child surgery. With support from a CSR partnership with HDFC ERGO we were dedicated to saving his little heart.
Nishanth underwent an Arterial Switch Operation with Pulmonary Valvotomy and closure of the VSD on 13th October 2020. It was a six-hour surgery as the arteries were switched to their usual positions. The coronary arteries were also moved, reattached to the aorta and the pulmonary valve was opened and VSD closed. He was weaned off the ventilator on 14th October. His recovery was fast and he was discharged on the 4th day after the surgery. One of their relatives helped them in arranging a private vehicle for their journey back home.
Anitha and Balamurugan are happy that Nishanth can lead a normal life like other children. They want him to become a doctor in future.
Through CSR support, hospital partnerships that include dedicated doctors and the community coming together during a global pandemic, the Foundation has been able to help critical little hearts who need saving. To date, the Foundation has enabled over 2900 critically-ill children to have a chance at life with early medical intervention. If you wish to help in any capacity, you can also make a donation for child surgery on → https://www.genesis-foundation.net/donate