The Healers Journal: My Journey to Heal children With Heart Disease. - Blog

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The Healers Journal: My Journey to Heal children With Heart Disease.

April 12, 2024 | Contributed by Dr Amol Gupta

Like all journeys, mine began with a number of tragedies (sorry to start like this I am in Rick Riordan phase rather than Vikaram Sampath phase, can you complain!). After losing my mother at a young age, we lived in a joint family and perhaps similar to all joint families, mine was also dysfunctional to odd extremes, but still I was happy living with my brother and cousins. Life pretty much continued the way it does from fighting for petty things to giving board exams and going for tuitions. Suddenly when I was in high school, we heard for the first time of “CANCER”. My cousin was diagnosed with one. We took care of him as well as we could but as we all know life sucks lemons and he was gone, hopefully at peace with all loving ones beside him in his last moments.

Dr Amol Gupta

The tragedy had changed the whole family and somehow changed me too. Aspiring to become an Aeronautical engineer, life spun around – we can call it destiny.  I decided to become a doctor/healer so that none would endure what we did (so naive! I know).

Upon completion of under graduation (MBBS), With blessings from my father I got the field I wanted the most, MD Pediatrics. During this phase I saw many different interventions including hole in heart treatment. During my training, another tragedy struck. We lost one young girl to complex congenital heart disease and father in emotional state showed me her photo not even 10 days old having Rakhi with her 10 cousins touching her feet, being only girl in the family. I can’t explain the feeling the one who went to console and show empathy came out with red eyes (we all have that feeling that this is my “CALLING” . Maybe if I was a specialist, I could have made a difference). As time passed by, I developed a deep commitment to improve my patients’ lives by improving their health.

Dr Gupta and his team during an intervention

Upon completion of post-graduation, I started working in pediatric cardiac critical care ICU in Medanta Hospital, Gurgaon, which was good but I thought if I really want to continue in this field I should specialise in Paediatric cardiology. I had been exposed to both hole in heart treatment in India as well as other interventions for congenital heart defects and I was greatly interested in this field.

Fortunately, I got my opportunity to do so in Madras Medical Mission, Chennai under the mentorship of Dr Sivakumar sir, a genuinely humble and a genius. During my training I was counting myself fortunate to help children with such grave diseases because once you treat them successfully, they can go on to lead a normal or near normal lives.

On completion of my super speciality in Chennai our road took a turn towards Delhi NCR again as my wife was pursuing her post-graduation and secured a seat there. I started working in Max super speciality hospital where I gained some experience and finally started my own practice. The feeling when you do your first difficult Transcatheter intervention of PDA stenting in a neonate and you discharge the neonate 5 days after the procedure is difficult to put in words.

I am committed to heal children and send them home healthy

But this was not enough, as fates were yet to reveal their plan.  I wanted to teach and practice so we decided to move to Apollo hospital and medical College Hyderabad, where I got the opportunity to do both.

During my time here which is about 18 months we have treated many children with heart diseases both by percutaneous intervention (489 and still counting) and surgery (622 and still counting). These have included both hole in heart treatment and other interventions. I believe I might influence many young doctors to do what I do  and I Know that I am being extremely hopeful here.

One of the main factors that determines the feasibility of treating all patients is finances. We were fortunate enough to have association with NGO for heart treatment in India and government based schemes so we could cater to all sections of society from poor to rich and provide them the same treatment and focus.

The next most important part of healing such children is the team- pediatric cardiac surgeon, pediatric cardiac anaesthesiologist, the nursing staff and hospital management (we have our A-team) who are so supportive that we even managed to do Transcatheter pulmonary valve implantation and other novel interventions to treat our babies with complex heart diseases.

The best thing I could have learnt in my journey so far is to treat all babies as my own. Even on rounds I will regard them as how is my baby doing? Or sister, why haven’t you shifted my baby to the Cath Lab? The other staff may have a laugh, but once you say that out loud, you have this fierce commitment to heal them and send them home completely healthy.

Dr Amol Gupta
Pediatric Cardiologist
Apollo Hospital, Hyderabad

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