Chennai Doctors Bridge Language Barrier to Save Jarawa Baby Boy

Published: 29th August 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th August 2014 07:57 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: Mounting a language barrier may be an easy task for most doctors, but this one was particularly tricky. When a mother from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, specifically from the Kadantala Jarawa tribe, was flown to Chennai with her two-and-a-half month old bab, doctors at the Madras Medical Mission had a little trouble communicating with her. But once that was out of the way, they quickly went about repairing the child’s congenital heart defect - in the child’s atrio-ventricular canal.

After watching the child having trouble breathing and often seeming sickly, the mother took the infant boy to hospitals in the Andamans. When doctors there found the defect, they suggested the government to have them brought to a speciality hospital like MMM for immediate surgery. They were brought to the hospital in Mogappair and the child was prepped for surgery.

Atrioventricular canal defects occur in 2 of every 10,000 births and needs surgery to save the child. Blood low on oxygen is usually brought to the heart via one vessel, while oxygen-rich blood exits the heart via the aorta in normal bodies. But with people who have this defect, the blood usually mixes between the chambers of the heart and causes oxygen supply issues.

Paediatric cardiac surgeon Dr R Sivakumar said that the  baby was recovering well. “It is not an extremely rare condition, but it’s not exactly common,” he said. The surgery is believed to have cost `3 lakh, and has been done with aid from the government.


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