When SL Dua, 63, collapsed after a heart attack in May, he was told he needed an emergency heart bypass surgery. Five cardiac surgeons he consulted refused to do the surgery, saying he was 'very high risk' as he was just 3 feet and 5 inches tall.
"The surgeons said my small frame will make it difficult for them to find grafts long enough to bypass my blocked arteries. They did not want to take a chance, so they prescribed medicines instead," said Dua.
His sixth stop was at Gurgaon's Medanta Medicity, where cardiac surgeon Dr Naresh Trehan agreed to do the surgery.
"It was the first such case among my hundred thousand patients. He wouldn't have survived without the critical bypass – his three major arteries were heavily blocked and he was not suitable for stents either," said Dr Trehan, who is also chairman of Medanta Medicity.
The primary challenge was harvesting grafts. "We usually prefer taking grafts from healthy arteries in the heart, but because he was very short, we were prepared to get grafts from his arms, legs or elsewhere, if needed. Luckily, we got three grafts from within the heart," said Dr Trehan.
Though his family was a tad apprehensive, Dua did not have a flicker of doubt. "I knew I was in safe hands the moment I met Dr Trehan," said Dua, who retired from the Ministry of Home Affairs three years ago.
"We were a bit tense, especially when he was inside the operation theatre," said his son Lalit Dua, a Bahadurgarh-based businessman. The five-hour surgery was done on September 9 and Dua has made a smooth recovery. Doctors plan to discharge him in a couple of days.
After Dua did not find cases of other vertically-challenged people like him undergoing bypass surgery in other countries on the net, Dr Trehan told him it could be because they were not recorded in medical literature."Through his case, I wanted to send out a message that there's hope for such people. There's no need to turn challenging surgeries away," said Dr Trehan.