Nigerian can eat again after doctors construct a new food pipe

Feb 08, 2014, 10:56 IST | Anuradha Varanasi

45-year-old from Nigeria damages his food pipe after swallowing a highly acidic medicine; doctors at Fortis Healthcare use his forearm's skin tissues to create a new one

When the 45-year old Nigerian national bought a cough medicine from a store back home, little did he know that it would end up damaging his food pipe, making him unable to swallow food or even his saliva for months. However, Nuruddin Shittu can finally see light at the end of the tunnel as Mumbai doctors constructed another food pipe using his forearm’s skin tissues, and replaced it with the damaged one.

Nuruddin Shittu (45) decided to come to Fortis Healthcare for treatment after doctors in Nigeria informed him that his food pipe could not be salvaged
Nuruddin Shittu (45) decided to come to Fortis Healthcare for treatment after doctors in Nigeria informed him that his food pipe could not be salvaged

Shittu, a resident of city Alor in Nigeria works as a car salesman back home. Recounting his case, he said, “In September, I bought an oral medicine from a local vendor to treat my cough. However, as soon as I consumed it, I could feel a burning sensation in my throat and I went to a hospital. The doctors informed me that the acidic content of the medicine was extremely high that caused the damage.”

The Nigerian was admitted to the hospital for two months as doctors tried to control the infection and salvage his oesophagus. However, in November, they told him that his food pipe cannot be saved and he might spend the rest of his life dependent on a tube to send food directly to his stomach.

“I desperately wanted to be able to eat again, and refused to give up,” said Shittu. He started researching online when he came across Fortis Healthcare in Mulund. He, along with his wife, decided to come down to Mumbai for further treatment.

Create from scratch
The doctors conducted tests at the privately run hospital that revealed that aside from the damage, the patient did not suffer from throat cancer or any other ailment.

They decided to construct a brand new food pipe for Shittu, using the skin tissue from his right forearm. Speaking to MiD DAY, Dr Anil Heroor, surgical oncologist at Fortis said, “With the damage to the oesophagus, the patient could not swallow food, or even saliva.

Luckily, his voice box was functioning and it was extremely important that we preserve it during the operation.” He added, “From what we’ve understood from the patient, he had consumed some form of herbal medicine that could have been highly acidic.”

The surgery was conducted on November 12 and took approximately 12 hours during which a team of doctors removed Shittu’s damaged food pipe and replaced it with the newly constructed one. The patient spent a week in the ICU after which he was shifted to the general ward of the hospital. He was finally discharged mid January but has been staying in Mulund for further check-ups.

To eat again
Shittu is now looking forward to eating again. He said, “I have been told by doctors that in another three months I will be able to eat food normally. Although I don’t have any specific food item in mind, any nicely cooked meal would signify the end of the entire ordeal.” After spending three months in the city the 45-year-old will be heading back to Nigeria, along with his wife, next week.

Hours of surgery

Rs 28 lakh
Cost incurred by the patient for the entire treatment

3 months
Recovery period after which the patient will be able to eat

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