Eleven-month-old V. Santosh was born with a congenital heart disease. Children having a Sub-aortic Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) do not live very long. His age was against him and his weight (4.8 kg) was also not in his favour. His weight was less than half of the average weight of a one-year-old, 9.8 kg, and less than even the average weight of a six-month-old, 7.4 kg.
One thing that really went for him is the Arogysri scheme. The ailment of the heart he suffered is covered under the health scheme of the Andhra Pradesh government. Another important thing that was in favour of Santosh is the Left to Right Cardiac Shunt (pattern of blood flow in the heart that deviates from the normal circuit of the circulatory system). This is very crucial because this was the one parameter that gave the surgeons the confidence that they could pull it off.
Surgeons of Manipal Hospital, led by cardiac thoracic and vascular surgeon Sunil Basavaraj, performed an open-heart surgery on the tiny-tot to close the 16 mm hole in the ventricular septum. The infant was put on heart-lung machine for over 30 minutes to close the hole.
VSD is a common congenital cardiac problem found in 6 per cent of every 1,000 live births. Thirty to 60 per cent of children born with congenital problems have VSD. Unless diagnosed and treated, VSD is life threatening, according to Dr. Basavaraj.
The case of the child weighing less than 5 kg was a real technical challenge for performing surgery and administering anaesthesia. Another danger is that the ventricular septum is innervated with bundles of nerves making these children susceptible to heart block (failure in the electrical system).
But the children are totally cured if the surgery is performed and there are no complications, according to Dr. Basavaraj.