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Rare surgery in Delhi reconstructs half of baby's heart

Updated: October 5, 2012, 10:17 AM IST
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Rare surgery in Delhi reconstructs half of baby's heart
In a first-of-its-kind surgery in India, doctors in Delhi operated upon a 46-day-old to recreate half of her heart.

New Delhi: In a first-of-its-kind surgery in India, doctors at Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital operated upon a 46-day-old baby to recreate half of her heart, giving her a normal life she would have otherwise missed, medical officials said on Thursday. A look at six-month-old Isha (name changed) does not indicate any abnormality with her, but the baby has had an open heart surgery to rectify her underdeveloped heart. The baby, who hails from Rohtak in Haryana, was brought to Ganga Ram when she was just 40 days old.

"She would keep crying, did not take milk, and was getting weak day by day. Our doctor in Rohtak told us that she has a problem in her heart and we were referred to Ganga Ram," said Isha's mother, who did not want her identity disclosed. Doctors at the premier Delhi hospital detected that the left ventricle of her heart was underdeveloped. "The heart has two halves, the left ventricle and the right ventricle. The right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs for purification, while the left ventricle pumps blood to the rest of the body," explained Raja Joshi, Senior Consultant Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon at Ganga Ram. "Her left ventricle was not developed," he said.

The doctor said usually in such cases, doctors remove the left half and a surgery is done so that right part of the heart does the work for both halves. "However, when the child grows up, the right half of the heart is unable to bear the load, and succumbs to it at the young age of 24-25," he said.

In Isha's case, the doctors decided to conduct two complicated surgeries together, to make her left ventricle work. The procedures known as the Norwood operation and the Rastelli operation were performed together, called the 'Yasui procedure'. "This procedure has so far been done in Japan, and the US, but in India, this is the first recorded instance," he said.

A 14 hour-long surgery was performed by a team of 8 doctors and 15 paramedical staff, led by Joshi. Luckily, a hole in the baby's heart acted as a boon, and it was used to divert blood from the left ventricle. An artificial valve tube was used to create a new outflow from the right ventricle to the lungs. "This is a rare case, the left ventricle was strong, so we could operate upon it," Joshi said.

Her chest remained open for three days after surgery, as usually such surgeries lead to swelling in the heart and lungs. Now hale and hearty at six months, Isha has had a new lease of life. "She is a totally normal and healthy child," her father said proudly.

"We already had two girls, and there was a lot of pressure from the family. Her mother wanted a boy, and I had warned her that it may be a girl again," said the father. "We had a girl, and she had this problem, we did not even tell our family and friends about it. I want my daughter to be healthy and happy," added the mother.

Joshi adds that the rare surgery has opened new gates of possibilities as so far removing the left ventricle was the only practiced option.

First Published: October 5, 2012, 10:17 AM IST
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