NewZNew (S A S Nagar) : Born to a poor daily wage labourer father and a first time pregnant mother, as a 2 days old baby girl weighing just 2.3 kg, she was struggling to stay alive. Unknown to her uneducated and penniless parents, she was suffering from a congenital defect called esophageal atresia, where her upper esophagus (food pipe) instead of connecting with the stomach was ending in a blind pouch. She was oozing excessive saliva from the mouth and was unable to swallow mother’s milk.
The couple from Kalwari village in Karnal district of Haryana were shuttling between one hospital and another, not knowing what to do. The person for whom her father was currently working as daily wager finally handed him Rs 10,000 and asked him to take the baby to a bigger hospital in Chandigarh. He ended up at Fortis Hospital Mohali, where doctors diagnosed the life threatening congenital anomaly.
She had to be operated upon after stabilizing her and the costs involved were astronomical for the family. Sensitive to the situation, the doctors approached the hospital management, which quickly responded with approval out of the standing corpus of donations called ‘Khushboo Fund’ created for poor patients in 2003. Thus began the girl child’s delicate journey to stabilization and then recovery in the neonatal ICU at the hospital. The fund was named after baby Khushboo, a 13-year-old slum dweller who was operated upon completely free of cost for a defective heart valve replacement surgery when the now multi speciality hospital was named Fortis Heart Institute.
Today as he presented the child, by now a month old, alongwith its parents, Dr Sunil K. Agrawal, Consultant & Head Neonatology, Fortis Hospital Mohali, said this ‘Baby of Lakshmi’ (so called, since she had not been named yet), an underweight girl child (birth weight 2.3 kg against a normal of 3 kg), was born to a primi gravida (first time pregnant) mother on August 23 in Kalwari village of Karnal district in Haryana. Soon after birth she was having excessive salivation (oozing of saliva from the mouth). And when she was fed, baby was vomiting the milk. Along with this she also started having breathing difficulty, for which was admitted in a local hospital and from where they came to our hospital.
Dr Ashish Dharmik, who operated upon the child, said the baby was admitted in our Level 3 advanced NICU, and after initial stabilization, we found that she is suffering from a congenital defect called as esophageal atresia, where her upper esophagus (food pipe) ends in a blind pouch and is not communicating with the stomach. With this defect baby cannot be fed and whatever milk one gives, it can go to the lungs and can cause pneumonia.
The doctor said this is a rare congenital anomaly which affects 1 in nearly 40,000 live births. It requires early and prompt surgery, otherwise the child can develop pneumonia and could even die. At times with this defect there are also cardiac, renal, vertebral anomalies, but she was fortunate enough not to have any of these other defects.
After initial stabilization, she was operated upon on August 26 where her defect was repaired and was then cared for in our Level 3 advanced NICU, where she was on ventilator for another 5 days and was then gradually put on feeds. Not only is the operation itself very challenging and but also post-operative care is very demanding. There is always risk of anastomotic leak and worsening pneumonia. But with skilled and advanced care she gradually recovered and was discharged on September 7 in a healthy state. “We have now undertaken to foot her expenses on follow-ups as well,” he added.