20 April 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
Malad resident 19–yearold Anisha Turbhe (name changed) has been rechristened as a fighter by her friends and family members. A life–threatening tumour that had appeared in her heart when she was just nine made a deadly comeback a few months ago but this time too, she managed to fight it.
A fortnight ago, she was operated at the Asian Heart Institute in Bandra and the tumour, which had resurfaced in a tricky area of the heart, was successfully removed. Doctors have certified her as fit now. “I am happy that I can resume my classes,” said Anisha, a Std XII student.
It was in the midst of a school picnic 10 years ago that Anisha first fell unconscious. The tumour, however, never got detected till she had started suffering from regular bouts of fever. Breathlessness and nausea had become regular complaints. Surprisingly, several doctors told her parents that there was nothing wrong with her. It was a local paediatrician who finally suggested that she should undergo an echocardiogram test. “That is when we came to know that she had a cardiac tumour,” said her father Harish (name changed), who recollected how a cardiac surgeon had said that Anisha’s days were numbered.
This, however, did not discourage the father as he got her daughter operated by another set of doctors who managed to remove the tumour and helped her lead a normal life for the next 10 years. But, in October last year, Anisha fainted again. This time it was a paralytic stroke.
On examination it was found that the myxoma or the cardiac tumour had resurfaced again. “Doctors told us that a chunk of the tumour had broken off and made its way to her brain and choked a nerve there causing the stroke,” said Harish. CT Scan and MRI reports too had confirmed the findings.
The small piece of tumour that had choked a brain nerve was quickly removed in a surgery in Vadodara. But, the greater challenge was to clear the cardiac tumour as it was growing in the partition between two valves of the heart–mitral and aortic. Her treating doctor, cardio vascular surgeon and chairman of the Asian Heart Institute Dr Ramakant Panda, said that it was a very unusual site for a tumour to recur. Resurfacing of cardiac tumour is rare in itself. But, its occurrence between two valves made it challenging, he said.
However, Dr Panda managed to retain both of Anisha’s valves affected by the tumour and just repaired them instead of replacing them by artificial valves. Artificial metallic valves severely compromise one’s quality of life. It also means patient has to survive on blood thinners all their life as the foreign body tends to cause blood clots, he said. There is also a risk of the patient developing some kind of infection in the replaced valve, he added. Blood thinners can mess with pregnancy and child birth, said Dr Panda.
Anisha’s family is happy now that she can now lead a normal life, get married and also start a family.
The malad fighter
- Tumour was between mitral valve (lies between left atrium and left ventricle) and aortic (one of the four main valves of heart).
- Myxoma is the most common cardiac tumour to affect children.
- About 70% of cardiac tumours are benign or non–cancerous.
- If left untreated, they can interfere with the blood flow of heart.
- These tumours can also cause heart failure.
- Recurrence of these tumours is relatively uncommon.