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One-month-old baby undergoes complex heart surgery

Staff Reporter


“It is difficult to handle tumours in a newborn”

“This surgery is stressful even for surgeons”


CHENNAI: One-month-old baby Asiffa slept peacefully in her father's arms on Wednesday. Eleven days ago, the infant underwent a complex heart surgery for a condition called leiomyoma of the heart.

Three cardiologists at the Fortis Malar Hospital here – Director (Cardiac Sciences) K.R. Balakrishnan, Senior Cardio Thoracic surgeon Nandkishore Kapadia and Head of the Department, Cardiac Anesthesia and Cardiac Critical Care Suresh Rao performed the surgery and removed the benign walnut-sized tumour.

“It is very difficult to handle tumours in a newborn,” said Dr. Balakrishnan. “This kind of tumour is usually found in the uterus and finding this in a newborn's heart is of great scientific interest,” he said.

Asiffa's condition came to light when her parents noticed that she turned blue and breathless every time she cried. “We went to the Government Children's Hospital in Egmore for a scan and they recommended surgery,” said Hayath Basha, her father.

An echocardiograph performed at the Fortis Malar Hospital revealed a large mass on the right side of the baby's heart. “We saw her when she was three days old and we advised immediate surgery. In the newborn child, who weighs 2.5 kg, the tumour occupied most of the heart,” said Dr.Balakrishnan. The baby's body temperature was cooled to 15 degree Celsius and the blood circulation was stopped to create a bloodless field. “This gave us a 30 to 45 minute window period to operate,” he said.

“The patient's heart is very small and it was a real surgical challenge,” said Dr. Suresh Rao. During the surgery, the child collapsed since the tumour obstructed one of the valves of the heart leading to low oxygen levels. “We had to slightly change the baby's position so we could continue with the procedure,” said Dr.Rao.

After removal of the tumour, the heart was repaired and the baby's body temperature was restored to normal. This surgery, which was “stressful even for surgeons,” as Dr.Rao put it, lasted three hours. The cost of the surgery was estimated by doctors to be around Rs.3 to Rs.4 lakh. “Initially, we only paid a small sum of money. Beyond which we availed the Chief Minister's Insurance Scheme (now withdrawn) and the Trust Fund from Malar hospital,” said Mr.Basha.

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