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‘Blue baby’ gets new lease of life
Special Correspondent | Wednesday, 31 March 2010 AT 10:58 AM IST
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MUMBAI: Afifa does not feed like a normal baby. Tubes have been attached to her nose, which help her ingest milk. Afifa underwent a heart surgery when she was only 10-day-old, and it might not be the only heart surgery of her life.


Everything was fine in the initial months of Sultana Sheikh’s pregnancy, however, the fluid levels in her uterus turned out to be low in the eighth month of pregnancy. This prompted the doctors from Bhabha Hospital, Kurla operate on her rather than waiting for the baby to be delivered the normal way.


Sultana’s woes did not end here. Fehmida, Sultana’s elder sister, realised that something was odd about the baby. “A day after the birth, I realised that she was getting breathless and her skin was very dark. When I brought this to doctors’ notice, they said Afifa was a ‘blue baby’ and that she should be taken to a heart specialist,’’ said Fehmida.


The family went to another hospital and tried to treat the baby there to no avail. “Finally, we went to Asian Heart Hospital, where a camp was being conducted. Surgeons from the UK operated on Afifa when she was only 10-day-old then. I didn’t know if she would survive or not,’’ said Sultana.


 “We conduct these camps every three months, where a team of doctors from the UK visit our hospital and operate on patients who cannot afford heart surgeries at subsidised rates,’’ said Dr Abdul Rashid paediatric cardiologist at Asian Heart Hospital.


The surgery for Afifa’s condition (a shrinking pulmonary artery) costs about Rs 3 lakh, but Afifa’s parents paid only Rs 30,000. “Although, Afifa will need another surgery later in life, as of now, she is all right,’’ said doctors.



Blue baby syndrome (or simply, blue baby) is a layman’s term used to describe cyanosis (blue coloration of the skin and mucous membranes due to the presence of deoxygenated haemoglobin in blood vessels near the skin surface.)


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