Spirit of Mumbai saves Sangli kid

Updated: Aug 27, 2019, 10:08 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

City hospital and staff pitch in to help Sangli family that lost its all, with the heart surgery of their toddler

Shivanya Shinde with her mother Aarti following her heart surgery at Wadia hospital. Pic/ Bipin Kokate
Shivanya Shinde with her mother Aarti following her heart surgery at Wadia hospital. Pic/ Bipin Kokate

What started as misery when flash floods swept away all of their belongings on August 11 ended with joy on Sunday for Sangli couple Aarti, 24, and Sandip Shinde, 28. Soon after they escaped the floods, a chance encounter at a make-shift shelter plunged them into deeper distress ­— their daughter Shivanya fell seriously ill. Another chance encounter with a social worker led to more bad news: Shivanya, all of two months, needed immediate heart surgery.

She was rushed to Wadia Hospital, where doctors performed an open-heart surgery, and is now doing fine. "We were about to start dinner around 9.30 pm on August 11, and were talking about her naming ceremony when we suddenly heard our neighbours screaming and telling us to rush to safety as the locality was getting submerged," said Shinde, a vegetable vendor living in a rented shanty in Haripur village, 3 km from Sangli. "We left even without eating our dinner."

Shinde had just the Rs 850 he had made that day in his pocket. A man living in a pucca house a few hundred metres away sheltered the family along with 20 others till the next morning when a National Disaster Relief Force team shifted them to a local school.

Also Read: Undeterred by floods, Sangli man runs 'marathon' to meet his newborn daughter

Baby Shivanya
Baby Shivanya Shinde

Chain reaction

At the shelter, Sangli social worker Poonam Phatak was helping the rescue team, providing medical care to pregnant women and infants.

"When my attention fell on Shivanya, she was sleeping but looked pale," said Phatak. "I asked her mother, who said the child had cold and cough, but was fine otherwise. With their consent, we took the baby to a doctor, who gave cough medicine. But something was still amiss and her health was deteriorating. The next day, I showed photos of her reports to cardiologist Dr Ashish Makdum, who said there was a heart complication requiring urgent surgery."

Shanty Sangli
The rented shanty (in the background) where the Shinde family lived in Haripur Village, Sangli district with Shivanya

Shivanya was sent to Dr Amit Tagare, the only neonatologist in Sangli, who too opined that she required urgent surgery and that she also had pneumonia. Dr Tagare treated her for free till she was shifted to Wadia Hospital. Pathak sought the help of state minister Girish Mahajan, who was touring the flood-hit areas, and on August 14 the family was off to Mumbai in a civic ICU ambulance from Sangli.

Also Read: Rare disease! Girl's leaking brain fluid mistaken for cold; finally operated upon

Mid-journey scare

Shinde said Shivanya's health worsened during the journey and that at one point, the doctors in the ambulance said they were not getting a pulse and may need to be taken to Pune instead. "But the doctors revived her, we continued the journey and by 11 pm reached Wadia Hospital, where all arrangements were in place and treatment started," said Shinde.

School Sangli
School no 36, which was converted into a temporary shelter, where Shivanya's health started deteriorating

But when Dr Biswa Panda, pediatric cardiac surgeon, examined Shivanya, she still had pneumonia and her blood reports indicated an infection. She was put on antibiotics and the surgery was scheduled for August 19.

"The child had a birth defect called Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Connection (pulmonary vein on the right side instead of left)," said Dr Panda. "The purified blood required on the left side of the heart was going to the right. And due to a small hole in heart the mixed blood was entering the left side of the heart, which was not adequate for survival."

A complex five-hour surgery followed, and as Shivanya was ill, doctors had to tackle her drop in saturation and maintain her heart rate before starting the procedure, where they corrected the connection of the pulmonary vein to the left side of the heart and sealed the hole. They then enlarged the small pulmonary vein on the left side using latest surgical techniques. After 48 hours on ventilator support, Shivanya showed positive response and was shifted her out of the ICU on Sunday.

Shivanya Doctors
Baby Shivanya Shinde with their parents Aarti and Sandip Shinde and the team of Wadia doctors who saved her life (from right) Dr Anupama,  Dr Jayshree Mishra, Dr. Minnie Bodhanwala, CEO, Dr Biswa Panda, cardiac surgeon, Dr Wilson cardiac anaesthetist, Dr Shakuntala Prabhu, medical director and Dr Sumitra Venkatesh. Pic/ Bipin Kokate

"She will need another three to four days in the hospital and it will take at least a month for her heart to function normally," said Dr. Panda, who started the pediatric cardiac center at Wadia Hospital three years ago and has saved over a thousand babies. "It was a rare case, and she will need medicines for a few weeks but she will have a normal childhood."

As word spread about the Shindes, hospital staff provided all assistance and donated clothes and food. A portion of Aarti's hospital food is kept aside for Sandip, is even allowed access to the cardiac ward after he takes a shower in the common toilet in the premises and changes into fresh clothes so that Shivanya is not infected. (He got lost once when he stepped out looking for a toilet and took an hour to find his way back.)

"We are grateful to the staff and doctors," said Aarti. "Shivanya is our divine child and we will work hard and start a new life when we get back home.

Poooja pathak
Good Samaritan Poonam Phatak (in green) with the ICU ambulance staff before Shivanya was sent to Wadia hospital on August 14

Dr. Minnie Bodhanwala, CEO, Wadia Hospitals, said, they hope the family's life returns to normal soon. "We perform more than 75 such surgeries every month and there is a huge waiting list of children like Shivanya. I urge the community to help these children and their families in every possible manner," she said. The hospital has covered the total cost of Rs 3 lakh without even informing the Shindes about it. Pathak, who providentially started the whole chain of events, is excited with Shivanya's recovery. "We will try to help the Shindes start a new life when they return," she said.

Aug 19
The day baby Shivanya was successfully operated on

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