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Journey of a Cardiac Soldier

My very first congenital heart defect treatment was at the Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi when I was just 15 days old. I do not have any memories of that time, but I understood later from my parents that I was born with my Aortic valve closed and my Mitral valve leaking. Under the advice of wellknown Paedriatic Cardiologist Dr. R. Sureshkumar, renowned Paedriatic Cardiac surgeons Prof. I. M. Rao and Prof. Cartmill successfully opened and created a bicuspid Aortic valve by giving a 0.5mm incision.

In 2002, at the age of four, I was operated upon by Prof. Alain Carpentier in Paris for a elective Mitral Valve Repair. Unfortunately, that surgery was unsuccessful and I had to be re-­‐operated after few days to replace my Mitral Valve with an artificial metallic valve. To be honest, I do not have clear memories of this phase of my life, but I do remember staring at a water dispenser visible from my bed and wondering what was really going to happen to me. The information about my surgery is all courtesy my parents and medical reports, which I have read over time to understand the history of my case.

Post these three surgeries, I did have some setbacks and restrictions such as undergoing frequent blood tests to adjust my daily dose of Warfarin, moving to a lower class in school in order to cope with my studies and not being able to play competitive sports in school for the first year or so. However, that never really discouraged me because everyone around me was very considerate and helpful towards me.

We continued periodical checkups by Dr. Sureshkumar to monitor the condition of my Aortic and Mitral valves. In July 2012, I got to know that I had to go under the knife once again after I underwent a cardiac catheterization by Dr. Sureshkumar. The test indicated the need for replacement of both valves due to my physical growth and the surgery had to be done within the next 6 months. Even though we (my family and I) were expecting the surgery to happen at some time in future, this came as a slight shock to me because I was really looking forward to joining my new school in Dubai from September 2012. However, I soon realized that life is all about surprises and changes, sometimes pleasant and sometimes not so pleasant.

Subsequently, I was admitted in the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute New Delhi in August 2012. It was definitely one of the most daunting experiences of my life because at this stage I understood everything and all the time I kept thinking whether I would be able to survive this surgery. The day finally came when Dr. K. S. Iyer, along with his experienced team, took me in the operation theater and tried to comfort a terrified yet calm, 13-­‐year-­‐old boy.

To be honest, once I was in that cold Operation Theatre, all I did was pray to God and dream about flying back to my home in Dubai, as soon as possible. The worst was yet to come….

After nearly 24 hours I opened my eyes and saw myself entangled in different wires and tubes all over my body. I felt heaviness on my chest, only to realize that my chest was full of stitches after the surgery. Even though these elements were very horrifying, it was all thanks to Dr. (Mrs.) Parvati Iyer and her ICU staff that I was on the road to a speedy recovery. Days went by and I remained optimistic about becoming fit again with the solid support of my family combined with the proper medical care from the hospital. It is courtesy my very respected and renowned Cardiologists Dr. R. Sureshkumar, Dr. Radhakrishan and Dr. Khatri that I was able to go through all these hardships in the past and yet have a positive outlook, with a smile on my face and two prosthetic valves in my heart!

It is imperative to stay optimistic and believe in God, your doctors, family and yourself to recover quickly. Always keep a smile on your face no matter what happens, in today’s advanced technology in medical science, everything will be fine.

Now, nearly 6 years later, after undergoing one too many times, what felt like never ending congenital heart defect treatment, I have completed my schooling in Dubai after having achieved many accolades in my school life, such as academic awards and organizing school conferences. My next chapter in life is about to start soon, where I will be studying BSc. Economics and Management at the University of Leeds in U.K.

So always remember, keep faith in God, family and your doctors. Follow their advice, and you can count on everything being back to normal very soon.

-Contributed by Nirav Passi