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Times of India
13 July 2010

Arsia Chauhan suffered from extensive mitral valve damage, which meant blood was flowing backwards in her heartArsia Chauhan suffered from extensive mitral valve damage, which meant blood was flowing backwards in her heart
Thai doctor flies to Mumbai, performs life–saving operation on 10–year–old with rare cardiac disorder. All thanks to KEM doctors, who requested him to come save their patient
For two years now, she has not known what it is like to even take a short walk around her house without the fear of running out of breath and fainting. But 10–year–old Arsia Chauhan is finally on the road to recovery, and for this, she has the doctors at KEM Hospital and one very special surgeon from Thailand to thank.

Arsia, who lives with her parents and two brothers in Airoli, suffered from rheumatic heart disease, due to which the mitral valve of her heart slowly degenerated. By the time she was eight, she started showing very obvious symptoms of the disorder. Her activity had to be severely restricted; she even had to drop out of school and stay at home.

Her parents would make frequent trips to KEM. Her condition was rapidly deteriorating, and doctors knew they had to do something soon.

“Arsia’s valve was completely damaged,” said Dr N D Agrawal, cardio–thoracic surgeon at KEM Hospital. “The only treatment we could have offered was mitral valve replacement. However, this would have come with many downsides. Not only would it have reduced the patient’s chances of conceiving in the future, it would have also lowered her life expectancy.”
A heartfelt gesture
After evaluating the risks, doctors decided against performing the surgery as it would be too risky, especially considering Arsia’s age and the extent of damage. Instead, there was option they thought of trying.

“Dr Taweesak Chotivatanapong from Thailand is a world–renowned cardio–thoracic surgeon –one of the few surgeons in the world familiar with the technique of mitral valve repair. We requested him to come to Mumbai and perform the procedure on the girl. We were delighted when he agreed,” added Dr Agrawal.

Last week –less than a month after receiving the request –the surgeon cleared his schedule and arrived in Mumbai. After a fourhour operation –at no cost to either Arsia’s family or KEM –he successfully repaired Arsia’s valve.

“She will soon be able to lead a normal life,” said Dr Chotivatanapong, who is the head of the Chest Institute, Thailand and has performed 1,500 such surgeries to date.

Explaining why he decided to take up the case, he simply said, “As soon as I received Arsia’s reports, I knew right then that I had to help her. She is so young; I knew I had to perform the mitral valve repair surgery to save her life.”

The Chauhan family is thrilled and grateful to Dr Chotivatanapong for making the risky operation seem like such a breeze. “We have shown Arsia’s reports to several doctors in the past, but everyone told us that Arsia could die on the operation table. But these doctors have saved my sister’s life,” said Arsia’s elder brother Rafiq.

And Arsia, who is still recuperating at KEM, said, “I am so happy that I will finally be able to go back to school and get on with my studies. I can run, I can do anything I want, just like other children!”

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