Arrival of a baby is much anticipated and calls for a celebration in most households, but Seema Parab, 35 year-old Kanjurmarg-resident, wallowed in fear in the last three months of her pregnancy.
In the sixth month of her pregnancy, Parab’s gynaecologist, while going through routine sonography reports, suspected that the fetus’s heart was severely deformed. “The doctor was not sure what to do next,” said Parab.
In the last two months of her pregnancy, she visited four hospitals and consulted as many specialists. Relief came at Fortis Hospital in Mulund.
“On conducting a fetal echocardiogram, we realised that the child had multiple deformities in heart that included narrowed aorta, hole in the wall and valves that were not opening properly,” said Dr Swati Garekar, paediatric cardiologist at Fortis Hospital.
Parab’s child had to be operated upon within a week after it was born. “I went into premature labour and delivered at end of eighth month. The baby was sent to the ICU, where he was provided life support and operated on,” Parab told dna.
Parab was lucky, her son was among the 17 odd per cent of children who are born in India with congenital heart defects and survive with the help of surgery. According to statistics met out by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), 1.2 lakh children are born each year with congenital heart defects of which only 20,000 survive with the help of a surgery.
As per doctors, Parab was lucky that her doctors conducted a fetal echocardiogram. Awareness about such scans is very low. “Up to one lakh new borns die due to lack of facilities. Gynaecologist should be trained to pick up heart defects at screening level and refer cases to paediatric cardiologists,” said Dr Vijay Agarwal, paediatric cardiac surgeon at Fortis.
Experts also said that lack of training and infrastructure is making matters worse. “There are not more than fifteen paediatric cardiac centres in India. Three of the fifteen centres are in Mumbai.
The number of centres to handle such cases are few and the numbers of children with heart defects go up by a lakh each year. Several of them die due to unavailability of treatment,” said Dr Suresh Rao, Paediatric Cardiac Surgeon, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Andheri.