Now Ashhar Aftab, 10, can emulate pop-star Michael Jackson’s famous moonwalk. Something that was not possible for him till a year ago, when he had been refrained from exerting himself due to a rare congenital heart defect.
A class 6 student of a private school in Muscat, Ashhar’s heart defect was diagnosed a few days after his birth. “He was turning blue. So, the doctors performed tests,” said Aftab Akhtar, his father, an engineer.
“Mixed-up blood was going into Ashhar’s body instead of the usual oxygenated blood due to the defect. It was the increased volume of the less oxygenated blood, called blue blood, which made his skin colour turn blue,” said Dr Rajesh Sharma, head, department of paediatric cardiac surgery, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute.
The family had been consulting heart specialists for the last nine years. All of them suggested univentricular repair, in which a passageway is created for oxygen-poor blood to bypass the right ventricle and travel directly to the lungs for fresh oxygen. However, in Ashhar’s case, the leaking valve and other malformations would have resulted in complications later.
The family insisted on a biventricular repair. It took surgeons 12 hours to repair the defect. “There was some risk involved, as the technique isn’t commonly attempted worldwide,” said Dr Sharma.
A year later, Ashhar is like any other normal boy of his age and has regained the zest for life, like his favourite pop-star.