Diwali has come a day ahead for Lakshmi’s family and the staff at Sparsh Hospital. With the marathon operation, which lasted around 27 hours, going off successfully, the two-year-old’s parents, doctors and well-wishers are now just waiting for her to regain consciousness.
During the surgical procedure, doctors successfully detached almost half of Lakhsmi’s body, mobilized organs needed from the twin and changed her metabolism to a large extent. “The challenge now is for Lakshmi to recover. We cannot predict how her urinary and kidney functioning will be and the same goes for her ability to stand and walk. She will need help walking because it is something she has never done before,” said Dr Sharan Patil, chairman, Sparsh Hospital.
For the surgical team, the tricky part was wrapping up the procedure with minimum blood loss. “She is just a baby and we took away half her body and changed the bit that remains, so now we just have to wait and hope she responds well,” Dr Patil added.
Initially, the doctors had planned another surgery — just as big as this one — four weeks from the first procedure. “But we managed to do most of the reconstruction in a single sitting. Hopefully, we don’t have to operate on her immediately,” he said.
Dr Patil was also all praise for the surgical team. “They were brilliant. We had planned the surgery to precision but had a few surprises along the way. We had to innovate a little,” he said.
Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, director of Narayana Hrudayalay, which runs a health insurance scheme for the poor, feels Lakshmi may not have had to endure such a complicated operation had her mother Poonam followed a simple procedure during her pregnancy. Dr Shetty believes “a simple ultrasound test in the first trimester of her pregnancy” would have made all the difference.
Poonam did not consult a doctor or health worker even once during her pregnancy and gave birth to Lakshmi without medical supervision. Like many villages across India, her village in Bihar’s Ahraria district did not have a basic medical facility like ultrasound.
Dr Shetty’s insurance scheme ‘Yashashwini’ strives to give the poor quality medical facilities. And he has been quite successful, having touched the lives of over 27 lakh farmers in Karnataka since 2003.