In recovery: Baby Mustaffa and his father at Apollo Hospital .

4-month-old Mustaffa is Apollo Hospital’s youngest patient

Four-month-old baby Mustaffa from Iraq, who weighs 4 kg, is the youngest to have undergone a cardiac surgery at Apollo Hospital in Navi Mumbai. With his mother under surgery in Iraq, Mustaffa’s father flew to India, determined to save his child.

Mustaffa is one of 10 babies from Iraq who have undergone cardiac surgeries at the hospital with the help of the Iraqi government.

“The Iraqi government funded all 10 of them. Apart from this, of 107 heart surgeries we have done, 44 were free of cost and others with the help of crowd funding. Three years ago, when we founded the hospital’s 66th branch in Navi Mumbai, we had committed to perform 66 surgeries for the poor free of cost, and have been able to achieve 44 of these,” Santosh Marathe, COO, unit head, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, said.

Dr. Neville Solomon, consultant, paediatric cardiac surgery at the hospital, said it is possible to identify children with congenital heart disease (CHD) while the mother is pregnant, using echo scanning. If a parent learns of this during pregnancy, they take a call on the further course of action. In rural areas, however, people are not aware of the echo scan, which makes them more vulnerable to giving birth to children with cardiac issues.

“Eight out of 1,000 children have congenital heart disease. Of these, on an average, three or four require surgery, or their survival becomes a challenge. But not all children require surgery. Simple conditions can be managed by interventional (non-surgical) procedures. Complex conditions can be cured by open heart surgery with excellent results, if the team is good. Many of these children can lead a normal life with good quality of life,” Mr. Solomon said.

In Baby Mustaffa’s case, he did not have two arteries like most humans but a single trunk. “His was one of the most complicated surgeries we have conducted. We created an artificial artery. However, despite the complicated surgery, he was shifted to a ward on the fourth day,” Dr. Bhushan Chavan, the hospital’s paediatric cardiologist, said.

“Paediatric cardiac care is a significant topic which needs attention. Children with CHD have a higher risk of cardiac and non-cardiac problems. Though prevention may not always be possible, it can be successfully treated through early interventions. CHD occurs in around 1 out of 100 live births. Parents need to understand that cardiac problems can be rectified and not lose hope,” he said.

Symptoms like fast breathing, recurrent respiratory problems, frequent forehead sweating and turning blue are the symptoms in infants with cardiac problems.

Baby Durrah Boman (1), another patient from Iraq, is currently recovering in the hospital’s paediatric ICU after an open heart surgery. “By the time she reached here, her saturation level was too low. We do not know how she survived the flight. A few more hours and the case would got very complicated. When she reached, she had turned completely blue. Now, she is fine and her saturation levels are much better,” Dr. Abhijit Bagde from the hospital’s paediatric department said.

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