KOCHI: This 33-year-old man from Angadipuram in Malappuram sports a charming smile but behind it lies a tearful tale.
Six years ago, Subash married Sharanya and together for 60 days they shared a happy life. Thereafter he returned to Dubai to resume his job. After a year and a half, he was all set to come home to his loved ones, when his employer sent him for a last-minute unscheduled task.
On that fateful day, he was hit by a speeding truck and was dragged almost a kilometer before the truck came to a halt. The accident was so gory that those who witnessed the incident concluded that he would not survive.
Subash recalls that he could hear the wailing of the siren as he was rushed in an ambulance to the hospital, He experienced pain in the upper part of the body and trunk, but felt no sensation below his waist. He could not move his legs.
In the emergency room following examination, doctors informed him that his vertebrae in the back were broken to pieces and nerves damaged. He underwent emergency surgery to stabilize his broken spine. His life was saved but at a huge price. He was left paralyzed in both legs.
Returning home to India after two months, a dejected and depressed Subash wondered how he would face his wife Sharanya, his parents and in-laws. Over time wounds healed but the scars remained both inside and outside his body. After the initial feeling of helplessness, Sharanya took control of their lives. Months and years passed by. Bad times continued to haunt the family. A routine physiotherapy exercise unexpectedly caused a fracture to the right thigh (femur) bone, which required to be fixed.
Doctors then observed that he was breathless, although the family did not notice it as he was bedridden. To everyone's shock, a CT scan of the chest revealed that his liver, stomach and intestines were in the chest cavity with his right lung completely collapsed and his heart grossly pushed to the extreme left thereby compressing the left lung against the chest wall.
Subash was living only on one half of one lung. The implication was that in addition to heaviness in the chest and respiratory distress if he perchance contracted pneumonia it would be fatal as he had no lung reserve. It was a ticking time bomb. He was advised surgery to place all his vital organs back to the abdomen, which was a formidable challenge as six years had elapsed.
They then sought the opinion of their trusted family physician, Dr Ashraf (Padaparambu, Kottakal). He advised them to consult Dr Nasser Yusuf, a cardiothoracic surgeon, who explained in great detail to the family the gravity of the condition and the risks involved. After much thought and multiple opinions, the family consented.
Subash's operation was conducted in Sunrise Hospital, Kochi, on March 30 this year. It was complicated as all the vital abdominal organs had entered into the right chest cavity through a large gaping hole in the diaphragm (partition between chest and abdomen) and were stuck to the chest wall, heart and the diaphragm itself.
Dr Yusuf along with Dr. Mathew Sebastian (senior surgeon) with great difficulty gently freed the liver, intestines and stomach taking care not to cause any injury to these organs. The defect was repaired with a mesh. With all the organs back to where they belong, the right lung began to function. The entire surgery lasted five hours and Subash was put on artificial ventilation.
The following day, once conscious and awake, he was taken off life support. He could not believe the difference every time he took a breath now. Both his lungs had fully expanded and, it felt so easy and light to breathe and the heaviness on his chest had disappeared.
Dr Yusuf said diaphragmatic rupture is rarely seen with less than 1 percent of chest injuries and occurs three times more frequently on the left side. In Subash, the injury was on the right side which was unusual. It had occurred at the time of that fateful accident six years ago. However, it went undetected as it must have been a small rent to begin with and which over the years gradually increased to cause a large defect (15 cm) through which the abdominal contents had herniated into the chest.
He made a remarkable recovery and was discharged from the hospital on the ninth day. Dr Shaji P.G.(anesthetist), Dr Vineeth Alexander (pulmonologist), Dr Suraj P. Haridas (physician) and Libin Joseph (co-ordinator) played a major role in his treatment.
Subash now finds there is a purpose in life. Doctors have helped him to rediscover the will to live, he no longer considers his paraplegia a challenge and is determined to go back to a more meaningful and productive life in IT. "Such a remarkable outcome would not have happened if not for the strength and support that Subash received from his wife Sharanya and both their families," said Dr Yusuf.