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Rediff.com  » News » Rare heart surgery saves NRI couple's baby

Rare heart surgery saves NRI couple's baby

Last updated on: April 27, 2007 19:59 IST

When the renowned Mount Sinai Hospital in New York refused to perform surgery on a 15-month-old boy, son of an Indian-American couple, with choked arteries due to the high risk factors involved, the parents were devastated.

Little did they know that their baby would be given a new lease of life back in India, courtesy the experts of Pediatric Heart Care Team at Wockhardt Hospital in Mumbai.

A team of cardiologists at the Wockhardt Pediatric and Congenital Heart Centre performed bypass surgery on the 15-month-old baby, considered the first of its kind in the country and one of the very few cases of successful bypass surgeries performed on babies anywhere in the world.

It was a dreadful moment for the US based couple (name withheld on request) when their baby boy was born with a cardiac disorder, Coronary Artery Stenosis. The condition is extremely rare in infants, only one among every 10,000 babies suffer from it.

"The Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgery was performed on the infant weighing seven kilograms on April 22 and it lasted for three hours. It was a success. We are sure that it is the first of its kind to be performed in the country," said Suresh V Joshi, consultant cardiac surgeon of Wockhardt Hospital said at a media briefing on Friday.

The greatest challenge for the cardiologists was the age of the patient.

The options available were medication with limited chances of recovery, surgery but with a very high risk factor and heart transplant. The doctors opted for a minimally invasive bypass surgery.  The team was made up of Suresh V Joshi, Snehal Kulkarni, Swati Garekar and Zakia Khan, cardiologists at the hospital with three assistant surgeons.

"When we diagnosed the baby we discovered that his heart muscles were not dead but in a state of hibernation. This gave us a ray of hope," said cardiologist Dr Swati Garekar.

The team opted to perform the bypass surgery using the beating heart method. The beating of the heart is slowed down with medication and then the choked arteries are cleared without the support of a heart lung machine.

Dr Joshi told rediff.com, "We decided to perform the surgery without stopping the baby's heart. During the surgery the pumping power of the heart was brought down to 20 percent. But we were confident that it would be successful and it was."

The doctors said the baby is in a stable condition and is expected to leave the hospital within a week. However, the parents seemed tense and in a state of shock.

"We are thankful to the doctors here for saving our child's life but our child is still in the ICU and so we are very concerned," said the baby's father who was present at the briefing but refused to divulge his name.

The doctors said that the baby is breathing on his own and has shown positive signs of recovery.  Dr Joshi told rediff.com there is a lot of scope of development for pediatric cardiology in the country. The Wockhardt centre is the only one of its kind in the Western Region.

"Only two percent of heart surgeons specialise in pediatric cardiology. This has to increase," he added. May be it's because it takes up half your life, he added in a lighter vein. "You know becoming a heart surgeon takes too long and then you have further specialise in this field. I think people find it too long and winding" he said.

Binoy Valsan in Mumbai