When Guddu Vishwanath Chaudhary (36) learnt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) six months ago, he never imagined he would need it some day to save his own son. The labourer, attached with a steel company in Bhayandar, administered CPR on his critical 45-day old son during an hour-and-a-half long journey to a Parel hospital in a car. The baby, Priyom, suffered from a rare congenital disease, and had a 2-cm wide tumour in his heart. The tumour blocked blood supply and led to breathlessness, and subsequently respiratory infection.
According to Chaudhary, in May, a series of tests was conducted to understand the medical complication. “For 15 days after his birth, we conducted blood test, sonography, culture tests. The reports showed nothing. Initially doctors in Bhayander thought he had blood infection. Later, they said he may have a chest infection,” Chaudhary said. Rakhi Chaudhary, Priyom’s mother, said they took their baby to a maternity home and later to a private hospital on June 3 when his condition worsened.
“He kept crying and his stomach was hard as stone,” she said. They were referred to a private hospital in Bhayandar, where they realised they would need at least Rs 40,000 per day for intensive hospitalisation, which they could not afford. “We asked doctors to put him on oxygen support for an hour and then took a relative’s car to come to Mumbai,” Chaudhary said.
During the one-and-a-half hour journey to Parel-based Wadia Hospital, Chaudhary realised his son couldn’t breathe. About six months ago, his employer had conducted CPR training session for all labourers. Chaudhary remembers how the company owner said the training could some day help them. He had learnt how to resuscitate children and adults in medical emergencies.
“In the car, my wife sat by my side and I remembered everything I was taught for CPR. I kept pressing my finger on his chest to revive his breathing,” the father said.Chaudhary earns Rs 300 as a daily wager whenever the company needs his services. He took a loan of Rs 2.5 lakh from relatives to fund Priyom’s month-long treatment at Wadia hospital. In June, Priyom underwent a six-hour procedure to remove the 2 cm by 2.2 cm tumour from the left atrium of his heart. The baby was initially admitted in the paediatric intensive care unit as doctors conducted a series of tests.
“We could only diagnose the tumour after an echocardiography. I have never come across such a case. Generally we see cardiac tumour in adults,” said Dr Biswa Panda, head of paediatric cardiac surgery at Wadia Hospital. In the six-hour surgery, the baby was put on a heart lung machine. “An open heart surgery is always risky, specially with a newborn. In his case, the constricted blood flow was worsening his condition,” said a cardiologist part of the team.
Doctors at the Wadia hospital added that they initially thought the baby had chest infection and general fever. “The baby’s heart is already so small, and the tumour so big, we first had to wait for the infection to reduce,” Dr Minnie Bodhanwala, CEO at the hospital, said. Priyom was discharged on July 3 after his condition stabilised. For a week now, Rakhi says, he is able to breast feed and is gaining weight.