5-month-old baby's illness baffles Mumbai's top doctors

Published: 24 December, 2012 07:06 IST | Naveen Nair |

For the last four-and-a-half months, a desperate couple has been seeking answers about what ails their infant, causing him to experience relentless, debilitating bouts of diarrhoea

Thanks to a rare congenital condition, a five-month-old boy’s life hangs in the balance. Just days after he was born, the infant weighed a healthy 3.12 kg. But within two days, he started suffering from severe loose motions. Though experts have tried several medications to resolve the problem, the infant still continues to suffer from chronic diarrhoea, and his weight has dwindled down to around two kg. What’s worse, doctors aren’t even sure about the diagnosis, suspecting that he may be suffering from a congenital intestinal malabsorption syndrome.

Hard times: Despite the Kannans spending all their time and money to seek a diagnosis and cure for their baby boy, their efforts have been in vain

Rahul Kannan was born to Isaimala (23) and Bharat Kannan (32) on July 25 in their hometown in Tamil Nadu. Bharat works as a driver for a private firm in the city, while Isaimala is a housewife. There is no history of any major illness in the family. Rahul’s elder brother, three-year-old Mukilan, is a healthy boy.

Problems began just days after the delivery for which Isaimala had gone to her hometown in Tamil Nadu, and the infant was immediately checked into a local hospital. When the family found that there was no improvement in his condition, they opted to get him treated at a Mumbai-based hospital.

After arriving in the city, the couple admitted Rahul to two well-known private hospitals. But even experienced doctors were unable to determine the actual problem. Finally on November 11, they admitted Rahul to Sion hospital, unable to support heavy medical bills at private hospitals.

Rahul’s condition has deteriorated significantly in recent months. His skin has started sagging and there is hardly any muscle mass in his body. According to medical records, he is suffering from acute malnourishment, as his body is unable to accept any form of food. Within moments of being fed milk, his body rejects it, leaving nothing behind for nourishment.

Even when he sleeps, he has his eyes and mouth open, unable to close them at any point of time.

An inconsolable Isaimala said, “He was so beautiful when he was born but look at his condition now. Everyone in the ward is surprised to see a 5-month-old baby in such a miserable state. What worries us the most is that the actual problem he is suffering from is yet to be detected. We have spent as much as we can on his treatment but there has been no improvement in his condition.”

A doctor from Sion hospital said, “We have tentatively diagnosed the baby with short bowel syndrome but we have to conduct several tests before confirming the actual problem. The baby is too small for its body to accept advanced treatment and hence, we have to wait for the baby to grow a little before we can start administering treatment.”

Dr Alka Jadhav, who is currently monitoring Rahul’s condition said, “In this case, the infant has a shorter small intestine as compared to other babies of his age. This is the reason that no matter how much we feed him, the body is unable to retain it, resulting in chronic diarrhoea. Currently, there is no treatment for the problem in this city, though there are surgeries available abroad, which the family cannot afford.” 

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