Till about three-and-a-half weeks ago, lung-cancer patient Ramphal Rana (56) could not breathe without the help of a ventilator.
Chemotherapy had reduced the normal 2-cm diameter of his windpipe to a mere three milimetre.
But then doctors at the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer institute (RGCI) in the Capital stepped in and literally give him breathing space. In a path breaking procedure, doctors put a 'Y' shaped stent to unblock Rana's windpipe, right above his tracheal bifurcation.
It is the first time in the country that a Y-shaped stent, made of silicon, has been lodged inside the windpipe. “Even regular tubular stents are used rarely in the country to clean out the windpipe. By my estimate, only three doctors in India do this procedure at present,” said Dr Rajiv Goyal, senior visiting consultant respiratory medicine, RGCI, who headed the team of doctors during the procedure.
Rana and his family are more than thankful.
For 10 days prior to the procedure — 21 October to 31 October — Rana lived under a knife’s edge on ventilator support in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Jaipur Golden hospital in the Capital, while family members braced themselves for the worst.
“He was in great pain. I was with him round the clock and I know how much he suffered,” said Premvati Devi (40), Rana's wife. “He couldn’t breathe and would spit blood with cough continuously.”
Diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer in June 2009, Rana had been on chemotherapy at a private hospital in Delhi for more than three months, before his wind wipe gradually started shrinking due to the rigorous therapy sessions.
Rana was shifted to RGCI on 31 October and the non-surgical procedure conducted on 1 November. After a day in the ICU and a week’s chemotherapy session, he was finally discharged from the institute on November 10. “This is such a relief,” said Rana, who had come to the hospital with his family for a follow up on 18 November. “Till last month, I couldn’t eat, drink or even sleep properly due to the blockage and pain, but I feel much better now. The only thing is, I get this sensation that something is inside my throat, but that's nothing as compared to the misery earlier,” he added.
“We want people to know that now they have an option even if the blockage is right about the split in the trachea. Earlier only tubular stents were available here, which couldn't be used near the divergence," said Dr Goyal.