Vibha Devi, who was born on Thursday in a remote rural village in India’s Bihar state, was rushed by 24hr train to the capital by his desperate father.
Leaving his wife behind, Chander Manjhi and his father-in-law travelled to Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to try to save the child’s life.
During a complete check-up doctors found the baby also has multiple disorders. Apart from the protruding heart, he also has a hole in his heart and has a single pump (for pumping blood). A normal heart has two pumps.
Suffering from a condition known as Ectopia Cordis, which causes the heart to be abnormally placed inside or outside of the body, most babies die within hours of being born.
However, there is guarded optimism for Vibha after the child survived the arduous 800-mile train journey from Muzaffarpur to Delhi.
“He is stable and is being treated for infection. Once the infection goes, we will do the surgery,” said Dr A.K. Bisoi, a cardiologist at the Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery Department at AIIMS.
“His parents are lucky the baby is still alive even after infection as it has spread to all body parts. We are trying our best to save the baby.”
Due to the family’s income and the rarity of the child’s condition, cardiologists at AIIMS, including Dr Bisoi, are providing treatment for free.
A team of five surgeons is on stand-by to operate should Vibha survive the next few weeks.
“The surgery is a multi-layered procedure and might take months,” said Dr Bisoi.
“We have to create space step by step and the chest wall has to be reconstructed.
“In India, no infant with such a defect has survived,” Dr Bisoi added.
‘There are only three survivors suffering from the disease in the world. But this baby is the only one with two heart defects,’ he said.
‘It’s a miracle and challenge for doctors. Every extra day he survives gives us an opportunity to deal with the rare disease and we are learning a lot from the case. We are doing our best to ensure the child lives,’ Bisoi said.
For now, the baby’s heart has been covered with a synthetic membrane and infected blood fully replaced from his body.
In 2006, doctors in Florida, U.S. carried out a similar operation on Naseem Hasni who was born with his heart outside his chest.
Doctors wrapped his heart in Gore-Tex, a waterproof, breathable fabric used in outdoor clothing and medical applications. His heart was then wrapped in a layer of his own skin, to substitute for his missing pericardium, the sac that encloses the heart.
The heart was then slowly eased inside his chest.
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