Mumbai: Two-month-olds Satara boy treated for congenital heart defect at Raheja Hospital

With next-to-none diagnosis and treatment options in interior rural pockets, the child could not receive appropriate treatment in their hometown

Baby Atharva post the operation

For Gunwant and Sonali Patil, residents of Satara district, ensuring their baby boy Atharva was treated for a sickness that remained undiagnosed, was worrisome. The parents ran from pillar to post in search of aid after their child took ill.

Through the reference of a local doctor, the parents brought their child to S.L Raheja Hospital, Mahim under the care of Dr Dwarkanath Kulkarni, consultant, cardiac surgeon, at the hospital. Post a series of tests, the two-months-old who weighed a mere 2.5 kgs was diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD).

Primary diagnosis revealed that the vessels carrying pure blood from the lungs were going to the wrong chamber of the heart, known as Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Connection (TAPVC).

Dr Kulkarni and the team of specialists comprising of Dr Pravin Lovhane, ICU Intensivist, Dr Sushil Raut, anaesthetist, and Dr Asmita Mahajan, consultant neonatologist and paediatrician, suggested that the infant be operated upon on an immediate basis.

Gunwant and Sonali Patil, the parents of Baby Atharva
Gunwant and Sonali Patil, the parents of Baby Atharva

To repair the defect, an open-heart surgery was performed where the pulmonary veins were rejoined to the left atrium, and the Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) was closed. In such conditions, initial symptoms include bluish colouring of the skin, high respiratory rate, thin built and reduced weight gain. If not diagnosed and treated on time, the disease may progress rapidly and lead to death.

Speaking about the nature of the case, Dr Dwarkanath Kulkarni, consultant, cardiac surgeon, S.L. Raheja Hospital, said, “In cases like this, symptoms usually develop soon after birth; these can be diagnosed during the nine months of pregnancy through anomaly scans. However, due to inadequacies in diagnostic facilities in rural areas, identification of the disease and treatment options is unmet. Depending on the progress of the disease, emergency intervention is required and failure to conduct the same can lead to death. Mortality rates for such conditions are extremely high, if appropriate medical aid is not provided.”

The Father of Atharva, Gunwant Patil, a Lab Help, said, “We are very grateful to the doctors and the entire team at the hospital. If it wasn’t for them, our life story would have been different. We were unaware of our child’s disease and are indebted to the doctors and nurses for having saved our only child. With financial aid coming in from different channels, Atharva’s surgery was done for free.”

Adding about the condition of the child, Dr Sachin Deshpande, consultant paediatric cardiac intensivist, S.L. Raheja Hospital, said, “Baby Atharva responded well to surgery and was housed in the PICU for five days. He is now fit to go home, devoid of any complications. We have addressed the parents on regular follow-ups with a paediatric cardiologist”.

Six months since the initiative, over 170 paediatric cardiac surgeries and procedures have been conducted and little lives have been saved across rural Maharashtra. Through the financial support lent by various NGO’s, monetary assistance has been enabled for such families.