Botched Heart Surgery Leaves Infant Paralysed
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01 July 2010
By Pratibha Masand
Staying at a chawl in Worli village, the Londhe family survives on well wishes and a trickle of an income from selling agarbattis doorto–door. But till one year ago, things were different for the Londhes–theirs was a happy and well–to–do family.
Last year, Vinita and Vijay Londhe’s youngest son Sankalp, who had then turned eight months old, was detected with a heart problem. His aorta was narrow and pressed on the wind and food pipes every time his heart contracted. When the doctors at a city hospital performed a surgery on the child’s heart, the artery connecting his spinal cord was damaged.
"After the surgery, he couldn’t move his legs,’’ said Vinita. But they soon realised that Sankalp had also lost all sensation from waist down. He couldn’t tell when he needed to pass urine.
"As a result of being constantly wet, he contracted an infection in his groin and thighs. Manually removing his faeces everyday was a feat in itself. We had to press his stomach to do this,’’ said Vijay.
Constant attention required by Sankalp took a toll on the couple’s careers; both lost their jobs. "We used to live in a family of 16 people in our own house,’’ added Vijay, whose family of five now stays in a small room, in a Worli chawl, lent to him by a friend. "All our savings were spent on Sankalp’s treatment. We tried everything, but to no avail. We couldn’t even repay our loans,’’ added Vinita.
Lilavati Hospital sought to help the family. "We trained the couple to put a catheter in the child’s groin every three hours and a method of self enema. Though nothing can be done for the child’s paralysis, we tried to help the family cope,’’ said Dr Rajeev Redkar, consultant paediatric surgeon.