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Rare open heart surgery at Stanley hospital

By R. Sujatha



Dr. Revi Kamalasekar Rajaveera (second from left) explaining the open heart surgery done on a pregnant woman to the Health Minister Thalavai Sundaram (extreme left) at the Stanley General Hospital on Tuesday. — Photo: K. V.Srinivasan

CHENNAI, DEC. 21. In a first of its kind surgery in a government institution in the State, an open-heart operation was done on a five-month pregnant woman who had already undergone two surgeries for the same problem some years ago. The surgery was done with general anaesthesia and using a heart-lung machine at great risk.

Lalitha of Pattukottai in Thanjavur district underwent two surgeries for narrowing of heart valves before the recent one. The first one was done at the Government General Hospital in 1998 and for the second time after marrying a relative and during an advanced stage of pregnancy in 2002.

She had suffered from breathlessness and was referred to Stanley Medical College. After a surgery during the eighth month of pregnancy she was asked to come for a review. The 24-year-old woman did not return after childbirth for a follow-up. Now, she has undergone the open-heart procedure. Her condition was not hereditary and comes from throat infection and fever that affects the heart. It is common in people living in unhygienic surroundings. "This is a disease of the Third world countries. It is not common in people above 30," says J. Revikamalasekar Rajavira, head of the Department of Cardio Thoracic Surgery, who led the team of doctors that performed the surgery. He performed the previous surgery also on Lalitha.

"It (Chennai) is very far away," Lalitha says while giving the reason for not returning for the follow-up. "I came for abortion. I did not want my child to suffer my problem." Doctors refused to do so as the foetus was three-months-old and referred her to the Stanley hospital.

"She has been registered at the RSRM Maternity Hospital so that she can come to us for review," Dr. Rajavira said. The mother and child are doing well.

Valve replacement

Vinnarasi (40) came to the hospital with shortness of breath and a bloated stomach. She has been visiting many hospitals for the past six months but with no relief. The doctors found "both her valves severely damaged and the root of the aorta was narrowed down severely to 1.5 cm against the normal of 2.2 cm." The valves were replaced and she was treated for "aortic root enlargement." The surgery was the first of its kind in the hospital, the doctors say. Vinnarasi's son and daughter are in college and her husband sells wood for living.

Today, the Minister for Health, N. Thalavai Sundaram, accompanied by the hospital Dean-in-charge, D.R. Gunasekaran, called on the patients and congratulated the Government hospital medical team for successfully completing the rare procedure.

The women, who are now in the intensive care unit, will be discharged soon say hospital authorities.

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