Parents refute time and cause of death of their son who suffered from congenital cardiac defect

The death, on Friday, of a three-year-old boy who underwent cardiac surgery a day earlier created a stir at the Institute of Child Health (ICH) in Egmore.

The boy’s parents said their son died on Thursday itself, soon after the surgery, due to lack of sufficient care. However, doctors said the boy died only on Friday, due to ‘right ventricle failure,’ after open-heart surgery.

Sivakumar, a daily wage labourer, and Mangaiyarselvi, of Ariyakudi village in Pudukottai district, admitted their son Inbarasan to ICH on May 20, 2013, for treatment of a congenital cardiac defect.

The boy suffered from Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia — four anomalies in the heart starting with problems in formation of the heart, hole in the heart, obstruction in the right ventricle and underdeveloped pulmonary artery.

Inbarasan was kept waiting for surgery as he was underweight and malnourished. On Thursday, he was operated on in a seven-hour-long procedure.

“The surgery began at 9 a.m. on Thursday and ended at 4 p.m. We informed the parents about the risks involved in the surgery,” a doctor said.

During the open-heart surgery, cardio-thoracic surgeons blocked the hole in his heart. “We augmented the pulmonary artery and reconstructed a pericardial patch. This would act as a conduit to carry impure blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs for oxygenation,” he said.

Doctors said Inbarasan was put on ventilator and given supportive drugs and continuously monitored. “But the child did not respond to post-operative care. His urine output was low and heart was weak. He could not be revived and died due to right ventricle failure at 2 p.m. on Friday,” he said.

However, an inconsolable Sivakumar told The Hindu the boy died soon after surgery. “Doctors said he had three problems in his heart. We were kept waiting from May for the surgery. They said they could not operate on him due to some repairs on a respiratory machine. Finally, they took him for surgery on Thursday. He was fine and talking well before the operation,” he said.

The boy’s mother, Mangaiyarselvi, who collapsed on hearing of her son’s death, said later her son seemed lifeless after the surgery. “He came out of the operation theatre after several hours. His eyes were half shut and his hands and legs were cold. But doctors said he had been sedated,” she said. The doctors did not take any blood test or check the boy’s condition before surgery, she said.

However, doctors said there was no delay in conducting the surgery and also refuted claims the ventilator was faulty.

A total of 105 cardiac surgeries were performed at ICH from January this year and there had been seven deaths — well within the globally-accepted mortality rate, a doctor said.

On Friday evening, after much coaxing and cajoling by hospital authorities, the couple accepted the body and left for Pudukottai by train. No police case was filed and so, an autopsy was not conducted.