At the age of two-and-a-half, Ananthu from Kannur weighed just seven kg.

The child had failed to thrive because of a rare congenital anomaly of the mitral valve of the heart — mitral arcade or hammock mitral valve — which had resulted in heart failure (a progressive condition in which the heart is unable to pump sufficient blood for the body).

Mitral valve repair surgery for this anomaly is quite complex. On Thursday, Ananthu became the first patient at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) to undergo this complicated open heart surgery. Pedro Del Nido, cardiac surgeon from Children's Hospital Boston in the U.S., assisted by the cardiac surgery team from SCTIMST performed the surgery. The child is doing well at the ICU, doctors at the SCTIMST said.

Apart from Ananthu, five other children were also fortunate enough to be operated upon by the best of surgeons at the surgical workshops conducted as part of the 13th annual conference of the Paediatric Cardiac Society of India, a prestigious event hosted by the SCTIMST, which began here on Thursday.

Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma, head of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore, inaugurated the four-day event.

Surgical and interventional workshops were the highlights of the day and these were relayed live to an audience of over 500 delegates from the operation theatres and Cath lab. A hands-on 3D Echocardiography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging workshops and symposiums on all the frontier areas of paediatric cardiology are being organised as part of the conference.

Paediatric cardiology has come a long way in the treatment of congenital heart diseases in children. From an era (1970s) when closing ‘hole in the heart' or Atrial Septal Defect was a major open heart operation requiring even 26 transfusions, today this is just a 20-minute procedure done in the Cath Lab itself, said S. Sivasankaran, Professor of Cardiology at SCTIMST.

The fourth annual conference of Pulmonary Vascular Research Institute, South East Asia Region, is also being organised concurrently. The event will be inaugurated on October 1. Several international faculty and experts from across the country will participate in the conference.