A baby boy born weighing just over 1lb is the world’s tiniest baby to have successful heart surgery. The yet-to-be named baby was born at just 28 weeks at a government-run hospital in Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan in India.
Measuring the length of a palm, the baby’s eyes, lungs and skin were undeveloped, leaving him too fragile to touch.
He was also suffering from a condition, known as Patent Ductus Arteriosus, where the two major blood vessels of the heart are connected, which led to him having breathing problems.
Yet, at just two weeks old, doctors performed a milestone operation in an intensive care unit after he failed to respond to medication and was too delicate to be moved to a specialist centre.
An unnamed baby boy is the smallest ever to survive heart surgery, weighing just over 1lb
WHAT IS PATENT DUCTUS ARTERIOSUS?
Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a heart problem that occurs soon after birth in some babies.
In the US, it affects around eight in every 1,000 premature babies and two of out every 1,000 full-term infants.
In PDA, abnormal blood flow occurs between two of the major arteries connected to the heart.
Before birth, the two major arteries —the aorta and the pulmonary artery —are connected by a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus, which is essential for fetal blood circulation.
Within minutes or up to a few days after birth, the vessel is supposed to close as part of the normal changes occurring in the baby’s circulation.
In some babies, however, the ductus arteriosus remains open.
This allows oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood to mix, which can put a strain on the heart and increase blood pressure.
Medication or surgery is required to treat the condition.
Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Dr Sunil Jangid, who performed the surgery at Geetanjali Medical College & Hospital in Eklingpura, India, said: ‘Normally the connection between the arteries remains ’til the foetus is in the mother’s womb. It automatically disconnects after childbirth. If it doesn’t, it has to be treated with medicines. In this case, when the infant didn’t respond to medicines, heart surgery was the last option.’
Dr Jangid, said: ‘The baby weighed merely 470g (1.03lbs) at birth and was just the size of a palm. Operating on an infant, especially when he is so tiny, is very challenging and risky as the body parts are extremely premature.’
Dr Sanjay Gandhi, who was also involved in the procedure, said: ‘There were many risks involved like respiratory distress syndrome, brain/lungs internal bleeding, feeding intolerance, developmental problems.’
Despite the risks, the doctors made the decision to operate in the hospital’s intensive care unit, as moving the baby could have been life threatening. Special miniaturised surgical equipment was used and the baby survived against all the odds.
His father, known just as S P Jain, says his son’s survival is nothing short of a miracle. He said: ‘He is so brave that he has survived so many odds with such low weight. Our prayers have been answered.’