This 26-year-old has spent more time in various hospitals than at her Dehradun home in the past 18 years. Pooja Bisht was a normal child till the age of eight.
Then all of a sudden she started vomiting blood while playing at school. “Since I had thrown up a lot of blood, I was advised a blood transfusion — the first of many that were to follow over the next 18 years,” recalled Bisht of her ordeal that started in 1992.
“The vomiting would begin all of a sudden and continue for one or two days. My parents had no option but to hospitalise me repeatedly,” said Bisht, who had to give up three years of her school education due to her illness.
It was only in 2003 that gastroenterologists at GB Pant Hospital in Delhi, diagnosed the problem: portal hypertension — abnormally high blood pressure in branches of the portal vein, the large vein that brings blood from the intestine to the liver.
“Doctors tried several methods to treat the problem, including an endoscopic treatment called banding procedure, in which rubber bands were used to block the varices (dilated blood vessels) in my food pipe,” explained Bisht. This was a painful procedure that had to be repeated every 15 days of every alternate month, along with blood transfusion.
“There came a point of time when I refused to go to the hospital. I wondered if my problem would ever be cured,” said Bisht, who came across an article on portal hypertension which mentioned a doctor who had treated it successfully in Mumbai.
On June 29, Dr SK Mathur, senior consultant surgeon and head of department of surgical gastroenterology, hepato pancreatico biliary and liver transplantation at Fortis Hospitals, Mulund, performed a six-hour surgery, spleeno-renal shunt with spleenectomy, on Bisht, to decrease the portal pressure and prevent the vomiting.
“Portal hypertension often causes the spleen to enlarge and hyperfunction, which was affecting her red and white blood cells. Therefore we removed her spleen. “The vein of the spleen was then joined to the vein of her left kidney (using very finely placed sutures and taking precautions to avoid any narrowing or twisting of veins) thus creating a venous bypass,” Dr Mathur said.
“I have been advised physiotherapy and will be back in Mumbai for a follow-up after a month,” she said. Bisht cannot wait to resume her life. “I want to finish my MSc in Electronics and focus on finding a job,” said Bisht, who will be discharged from the hospital on Tuesday.