A year after she underwent a heart transplant becoming the first child in the city to have received a heart at just eight years of age, Madhavi Vishwakarma has resolved to become a cardiologist. Madhavi, now nine years old and a student of class four in Lakshdham High School, was diagnosed with a heart ailment in 2016 which caused her heart to function only 20 per cent of its full capacity.
Her family started looking for treatment options and were told heart transplant was the only way to save her. In January 2016, a seven-year-old boy’s death saved Madhavi.
“It was nothing short of a miracle,” says mother Smita Vishwakarma, who has kept a picture of donor Dyan Udani in her prayer room. The entire Vishwakarma family has pledged to donate their organs.
In 2015, Madhavi suffered from coughing fits and underwent treatment with several doctors for a year. Her weight dropped from 43 to 23 kgs. By October 2015, her treatment began in Fortis Hospital. In January 2016, having realised heart transplant was the only solution, her parents registered the eight-year-old in the waiting list.
While heart transplants in pediatrics is rare due to fewer brain stem deaths amongst children, a week after Madhavi was registered, Sydney-based Dyan Udani suffered a stroke and passed away in Mumbai. Dyan had come to visit his grandparents on vacation.
The seven-year-old was about to board a plane to Australia when he suffered a stroke and was rushed to Hinduja Hospital. “Dyan had heard about organ donation in school and would keep telling his parents he wants to donate,” Smita said.
He suffered a brain clot following which his parents readily agreed to donate his organs. Smita remembers meeting the boy’s mother, she says the two only wept not knowing what to say to each other.
“It was as if he was god sent,” she said. Donor Dyan and recipient Madhavi’s height and blood group were an exact match making the transplant easier and compatible.
Madhavi has returned to her active schedule a year after her transplant. She goes for dancing, a hobby she had to keep on hold due to poor health. She claims she wants to become a cardiologist to help others. According to her family, her activeness had reduced last year. Last month, she participated in a marathon conducted by Wadia Hospital.
There are three children like Madhavi on the wait list for a heart transplant in Mumbai. Of them, one is admitted to Fortis Hospital, another four-year-old requires hospitalisation every few weeks. Last week, a one-and-half-year-old baby succumbed after awaiting a heart donation. Three others are on the wait list from a span of two weeks to a few months.
“It is extremely difficult to get a heart donor in pediatric cases. We need the blood group and weight to match. Awareness on heart donation is still low. Also it is emotional for parents of a deceased young child to decide on donating his or her organs,” said Dr Vijay Agarwal, pediatric cardiac surgeon who operated upon Madhavi at Fortis Hospital.
The longest on the wait list right now is Aaradhya Mule who has been registered for six months. Her parents and hospital have mounted a campaign for a donor for her surgery.