MADURAI: A multi-disciplinary team of doctors at the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) gave a new lease of life to an 11-year-old girl who was completely paralysed and had severe breathing distress caused by a very rare autoimmune condition among children known as Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD).
A few months ago, the 11-year-old resident of Karuppayurani was admitted to the paediatric ward of GRH after she complained of backache and pain in both knee joints. She was then treated for rheumatoid arthritis.
However, in August, she was rushed to the GRH again in a completely immobile state and with acute breathlessness, said the Head of Department of Paediatrics and Director (in-charge) of the Institute of Child Health and Research Centre Dr S Balasankar. "The girl, who could not move even a finger, was completely paralysed and required emergency care. The girl's respiratory health improved after she underwent tracheostomy and prolonged ventilator support at the Intensive Respiratory Care Unit (IRCU)," he added.
"In the meantime, she was diagnosed with the auto-immune condition MCTD. The condition usually occurs only among women aged 20-30 years. Occurrence among children is rare," said the senior paediatrician.
To treat the auto-immune disease, the girl was administered two doses of the expensive drug intravenous immunoglobulin, but it did not yield any result.
Dr Balasankar mentioned, "Alternatively, the patient underwent six cycles of plasmapheresis to replace the antibodies, following which her condition improved.” After 23 days of intensive care, the girl gradually began to walk and would be discharged soon. However, the girl requires regular follow-up consultations, steroids and immune-modulators as MCTD is not curable, the paediatrician stated.
Pointing out that occurrence of MCTD among children is 'rarest of the rare' and there is no documented medical literature available on it, Professor of Paediatrics Dr Nandini Kuppusamy said, "Efforts are underway to document the girl's case through publication in medical journals. The girl who lost her father during the hospital stay requires financial help to afford lifelong therapy."
Hospital Dean Dr A Rathinavel said the 11-year-old was treated free of cost at the GRH, and the same treatment would have cost Rs 20-25 lakh at private hospitals. For saving the child's life, Rathinavel lauded the multidisciplinary team of doctors, including Dr Balasankar, Dr Nandini Kuppusamy, Associate Professor of Paediatrics Dr E Sivakumar, Neurologist Dr Manivannan, Head (in-charge) of the Department of Nephrology Dr Arul, Rheumatologist Dr Arul Raja Murugan, Head of the Department of Transfusion Medicine at GRH Dr M Sintha, Anaesthetist Dr Selvakumar, Dr Pratheeba and Dermatologist Dr Geetha Rani.