By on September 20, 2021
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A team of doctors performed a rare heart surgery at Goa Medical College on a nine-month-old infant born with a congenital condition

Newborn babies are fragile beings that go through immense changes in the first few weeks – the bones of their skull fuse together and the opening between two blood vessels from the heart closes. In some cases, the latter remains open, causing a condition called patent ductus arteriosus.

This condition causes too much blood flow into the lungs, putting a strain on the heart and increasing blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries – the two major blood vessels leading from the heart.

Recently, doctors at Goa Medical College (GMC) successfully changed the course of life of a nine-month-old infant diagnosed with this condition. The child, from a poor family, was born prematurely with patent ductus arteriosus. The parents were devastated, but after nine months of thorough research and planning, a team of doctors performed a special surgery to aid the family. The team was led by acting head of GMC's cardiology department Dr Manjunath Desai, assisted by associate professor of cardiology Dr Michelle Viegas Parab, consultant cardiologist Dr Amar Prabhudesai, as well as resident doctors and nurses from the hospital.

Dr Desai steered the process despite his ill health. He said, “I have been treating the child since birth. She had a big hole in the heart, known as PDA. Typically, 99 per cent of babies born prematurely have this condition, but the hole closes after 24 hours.”

He added, “As this did not happen with the child, she was treated with medication. Later she had pneumonia and received treatment for it. But concerns of COVID-19 and risk factors for infants led to postponement of open heart surgery. After nine months the baby weighed only five kilograms. Dr Michelle and I decided a closed technique instead of an open heart surgery.”

There were many challenges during the surgery. Dr Michelle said, “The first challenge was operating on an infant with a delicate body. Special device sheets had to be inserted carefully through the veins of her legs to avoid trauma and complications. The team was delighted that a rare surgery was performed successfully at the state-run GMC hospital.”  

The team wanted to use the best medical interventions available. “The surgery involved minimal scars and the child was discharged the following day, unlike regular open-heart surgeries which need a week of post-operative care,” Dr Prabhudesai said.

It took two hours and was performed at a time when the child was fast asleep as doctors wanted to avoid anesthesia. She was awake and playful at 4pm post-surgery. Health minister Vishwajit Rane was happy to see her playing when he visited GMC that evening. His role ensured the team had all the required devices, timely support and encouragement.

Rane lauded the commendable job of the team, saying, “This is a great joy for me as Goa’s health minister. GMC as a government hospital has helped people from economically vulnerable sections of society with effective treatment. I met the parents who were happy to see a healthy child. GMC will continue its efforts to help people with efficient medical care.”

GMC dean Dr Shivanand Bandekar said, “The diagnosis was made during the antenatal stage. The team of doctors opted for a rare closed technique, a remarkable feat achieved by the hospital. This is a great achievement for GMC in general and the department of cardiology specifically. A surgery that would have usually cost Rs 2.5 lakhs was done for free.”

The parents are grateful and thanked the doctors for their efforts. Dr Desai took great interest to address the sentiments of the mother who was scared as the child was born prematurely. She said, “When the nurses took my child away for the operation, I did not know if she would be alive and active. I am touched by the care received. The doctors have done a great job and supported me during my moments of pain away from my family. I am happy that health minister Vishwajit Rane took time out from his busy schedule to visit her after the surgery.”  

Surgeries at GMC are accompanied with unique tales hidden amid the gloomy times. “During the treatment, the child had awe and love for doctors, but after the operation she plays with everyone except doctors! The insertions made using devices seem like swords to kill rather than sheets to cure. But we know that this stems from her innocence. Ultimately the joy of the parents and her cheerful liveliness brings joy to us,” Dr Desai said. Truly, this is a wonderful achievement for Goa to see GMC living up to its motto of providing the best treatment to the people of the state and the country.  

Mother and Child

Cardiology Consultants at GMC
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