Chennai boy braves serious health conditions to score 95% in class 10

Rishikesh has been living with tracheostomy since the age of 3

Updated - May 16, 2024 11:30 am IST

Published - May 16, 2024 12:58 am IST - CHENNAI

M. Rishikesh with his family.

M. Rishikesh with his family. | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

For most students who attempted the recent board exams, it must have been the biggest hurdle that they had to overcome in life. But, for one student, M. Rishikesh (16), battles had defined his life. So, he sailed effortlessly through the 10th standard examination and secured 475 marks in 500.

Rishikesh contracted pneumonia when he was just one year old. After recurrent respiratory infections, a doctor recommended hospitalising the child. Not only did Rishikesh’s health not improve, it even deteriorated further and had to be put on ventilator support in a bigger hospital.

Here, the doctors informed his parents that the damage had already happened. Rishikesh’s trachea had narrowed extensively. After being in and out of the hospital on ventilator support for two more months with not much improvement, he was discharged. Doctors said that the damage was unrepairable, and that there was nothing more to be tried. At this point, the doctor who had initially diagnosed his condition, referred him to an ENT specialist, Dr. Mohan Kameswaran, at the Madras ENT Research Foundation in 2010.

Dr. Mohan assured that there was hope left. So, Rishikesh began his schooling at Springfield Matriculation High School in K.K. Nagar. His mother, Sivagami, said the school had been very supportive. “Every time Rishikesh faced difficulties because of his trachaeostomy, the school would call me up and I would go pick him up,” she said.

The school principal, S. Sudha, said, “He is a nice boy. Since he has been with us from the LKG and we have developed a good rapport with the parents. He is a hardworking boy and is one among us.”

Until he turned 11, Sivagami went to the school daily to help him with lunch. After the pandemic, things improved for Rishikesh, who had reached Class 8. He told his mother that he could now eat on his own. The boy had continued Dr. Mohan’s treatment. 

The doctor said the child had developed laryngotracheal stenosis - narrowing of the trachea and windpipe due to ventilation. He had sustained damage during the early days of treatment. “At the age of two, he had a bad episode of respiratory infection for which he had to be intubated. Subsequently, his trachea narrowed. We had done an emergency tracheostomy and multiple surgeries were performed,” he said.

Rishikesh has had multiple procedures to widen the windpipe. “Now, we are contemplating whether the tube placed in his trachea can be removed. After that, he could lead a normal life. It has been really challenging so far but the child has been managing it bravely,” he added.

The surgeries had been funded through charity as the family could not afford all the cost.

Rishikesh has taken group 1 in school for Class 11. He wants to become an engineer, Ms. Sivagami said. His father, S. Murthy, is a notary public advocate at the Madras High Court. Incidentally, Rishikesh will be celebrating his 17th birthday this Friday.

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