A community joins together to save a baby boy’s life
May 12, 2019 - India
During the past month, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (Amrita Hospital) has been at the center of a tense drama that has ultimately saved an infant’s life. Mistah and Shaniya are from Kasaragod, a district in the northernmost tip of Kerala. On April 1st, their baby boy was born, but within a couple of days showed breathing trouble due to a congenital heart disease.
The child was quickly taken to a hospital intensive care unit (ICU) in Mangalore, Karnataka, the neighboring state, and put on ventilation. After 10 days his condition did not improve, and doctors recommended an ambulance take the baby to a super-specialty government hospital in the state capital of Trivandrum in the south. The journey, however, would be a 15-hour drive of 370 miles.
Due to heavy traffic, social media users stepped up to the plate and started a campaign to create a “Green Corridor”. Tracking the ambulance’s progress, they shared information about where it was, and people arrived at the roadsides to clear the way.
But with the child’s life in such a fragile state, the Kerala Health Minister took action and personally requested that the baby instead be taken to Amrita Hospital. That would cut 125 miles from the journey and bring him to one of the top paediatric cardiology departments in India.
The child was also treated free-of-charge under a Government of Kerala health plan called Hrdayam, a unique initiative to support children with congenital heart disease. Amrita Hospital has partnered with the program more than 250 times to bring free state-of-the-art care to sick children.
With just an hour’s notice, the Amrita Hospital doctors leapt into action and prepped for the infant’s treatment. Upon arrival, the diagnosis was that the child’s heart had three problems: a hole between its ventricles, severe and extensive narrowing of the aorta, and an abnormal aortic valve. The baby was also having seizures and renal failure.
After the child was stabilized in the ICU, a seven-hour surgery took place on April 18th. The surgical team was able to repair all defects. By April 22nd, the baby was taken off ventilation and began breathing comfortably on his own for the first time in his life. Within a few more days, it was determined that he was in stable condition.
Health Minister KK Shailaja visited Amrita Hospital to meet the family and was very happy to see the baby's good health. She said she has the greatest of faith in the quality of health care and the expertise of the doctors at Amrita Hospital. "I knew that the baby was in a highly critical state and if there was the slightest chance of saving the child, the doctors at Amrita Hospital would do it,” she explained.
The team that treated the child at Amrita Paediatric Cardiology included Dr R Krishna Kumar, Head of the Department, and Dr Brijesh PK, Paediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery. The department is recognized as one of the leading paediatric heart programs in India and also treats patients from the rest of South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. At the same time, it provides a range of services at an affordable cost, includes a training program for paediatric cardiology, and conducts research initiatives in the field.