The case of the beating heart

Published: May 22, 2010

Three-day-old child’s open heart to be operated upon soon

KARACHI: A three-day old child from Kandiaro, Sindh, who was born with an open heart, will soon be operated upon, said a paediatric surgeon from National Institute of Child Health (NICH).

The child, whose heart also beats faster than usual, was shifted to Karachi on Friday when a team of experts conducted a detailed examination of him and decided to operate. They added that it will be sensitive surgery as his heart is outside his chest. The child is being kept in an incubator in the intensive care unit where doctors said that his weight is also lower than normal.

NICH Executive Director Professor Jamal Raza told Daily Express that this condition occurs when the chest bone and skin of the baby are unable to join during pregnancy, making the heart beat prominent outside the chest. The probability of this condition is one or two in 10 million. A team of experts has been formed to carry out the surgery after paediatric cardiac surgeons Dr Bangash and Dr Najma Patel examined the child, said Raza. “We will try to put the heart inside the child’s body through surgery and later on grafting will be done over the chest,” Raza explained.

The child’s father, Ata Muhammad, said that he got married two years ago and his wife is under treatment at a hospital in Kandiaro because this child was born after a caesarean. Ata Muhammad is a labourer by profession and said that he would be unable to cover the almost one million rupees in expenses associated with the complicated surgery. He appealed to the government to help him financially.

Ectopia cordis This rare condition is called ectopia cordis. Sometimes doctors decide that the best course of treatment is to deliver the fetus early. The baby’s exposed heart is wrapped in cellophane to protect it from infection and dehydration or water loss. The surgery to place it back in the chest is then performed.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2010.

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