Mumbai's big heart helps save girl with enlarged heart

Mar 07, 2018, 08:30 IST | Samiullah Khan

Local community rallies to raise funds before CMO, Tata Institute pitch in; brain dead 8-year-old's heart successfully transplanted

Sania's surgery was successful and she is doing well, said her parents. Pic/Hanif Patel
Sania's surgery was successful and she is doing well, said her parents. Pic/Hanif Patel

Sarfaraz Khan couldn't believe it when the doctors said that his little girl's heart was so large, it was killing her. But it was ultimately Mumbaikars' big hearts that ended up saving her, after they came to the desperate father's aid and donated R20 lakh for the 10-year-old's heart transplant. Sania, a Std V student, was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart) in 2016.

Doctors found that her heart was so overgrown that it had slowed down to just 15-20 beats per minute. The normal heart rate for a child of her age is 60 to 100 beats per minute. By September 2017, it had become clear that Sania would not survive without a heart transplant. The treatment and operation would cost Rs 20 lakh — an impossible sum for Sarfaraz, who earned a humble Rs 5,000 per month as a painter.

Sarfaraz Khan and his daughter Sania. Pic/Hanif Patel
Sarfaraz Khan and his daughter Sania. Pic/Hanif Patel

Long struggle
He visited several hospitals in the city to try and get help, until Fortis Hospital in Mulund agreed to do the surgery when a matching donor would be found. In the meantime, Sarfaraz launched a mammoth drive to appeal for donations. For months, Sarfaraz had stood at Marine Drive with a placard in hand, appealing to passers-by to help save his daughter so she could go on to achieve her dream of becoming an IPS officer.

Also read: Young Mumbaikar gets new lease of life following successful heart transplant

It took five months to gather the entire sum for the surgery, but thanks to generous donations from the government, a charitable trust and several Good Samaritans, Sarfaraz was ready with the money when a donor heart became available yesterday. Early on Tuesday morning, doctors harvested the heart from a brain-dead girl who was declared brain dead at Lilavati Hospital. The heart was transported from Bandra to Mulund and was transplanted in Sania's body.

Grateful father
Sarfaraz told mid-day, "It was thanks to all the people who helped that my daughter got proper treatment. I am not financially well off, and I am really grateful to everyone who helped." Among the donors are social worker Fazale Haq Qureshi, who donated the Rs 40,000 deposit for the treatment, and his friends Avinash Kushe, Akhilesh Rai, Sandip Shukla, Puras Jokhi, Advocate Ashok Mishra, Farooque Pathan, Hanif Patel and Imran Fazal.

Qureshi said, "Since Sarfaraz needed funds, we told all our friends and family members to help, and the response was overwhelming. It took five months, but we gathered the entire amount." Fellow contributer Pathan said, "I am very happy that god chose us and gave us a chance to bring happiness to someone's family."

Inputs by Rupsa Chakraborty

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