Surgeons in Rajasthan’s Udaipur have operated upon a 15-day-old infant, who weighed just 470 grams and was the size of a palm, for a congenital heart defect.
Doctors say the child was the lightest and the youngest Indian to undergo the surgery in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
The baby’s mother conceived after several years of marriage through in vitro fertilisation and delivered in the 24th week of pregnancy. The size of the child and the premature delivery made the May 5 procedure more challenging.
The child is recovering well and is expected to grow up normally, his weight having already increased to 600 grams.
Doctors said the baby’s low weight prompted them to perform the surgery in the neonatal Intensive Care Unit because shifting him to the operation theatre could have been fatal.
Dr Sunil Jangid of Jeevanta Hospital, who looked after the pre-term baby born on April 20, said the infant had difficulty in breathing immediately after birth. Echo-cardiogram diagnosed him with a condition in which two major blood vessels of heart, aorta and pulmonary artery, were connected.
Doctors said this connection present in the womb snaps automatically after birth. If this doesn’t snap, the condition is treated with medicines. But the baby did not respond to medicines, leaving doctors with no option but to put him under the knife.
Dr Sanjay Gandhi, a cardiac surgeon, who’s performed the surgery on an infant weighing 700 grams in a Jaipur hospital, was called to look at the baby.
The baby could not be shifted out of the NICU so the surgery was performed there only. “We used cautery machine and surgical instruments to stop the connection between two vessels,” said Dr Gandhi. In half hour, the surgery was complete.
“It’s really a very difficult procedure because very small and specific instruments are needed to operate on such small babies and resuscitate from a complex heart disease,” said the surgeons and anesthetists who assisted Dr Gandhi on the procedure.
The team comprised Dr Ankur Gandhi, Dr Kalpesh Mistry, Dr Manmohan Jindal and Dr Dharamchand.
“It’s really encouraging that babies so young and measly weight of less than 500 grams can be operated,” said Dr Gandhi and Dr Jangid.
The baby was born with weak muscles, rib cage and immature lungs. Brain, kidney, liver and heart were weak. “I cannot say for sure but this seems to be the smallest baby in the world to undergo this surgery,” said Dr Gandhi.