The hospital cot was her cradle, the beeps of the monitors her rattle sounds, stethoscopes her toys, the doctors and nurses her family. For Vani, the hospital was her home. Her parents had forgotten the joys of youth, the gay abandon their age would warrant. They had suddenly grown up, sobered and quietened by the burden and enormity of Vani’s illness. Nothing could have prepared them for the suffering they would go through together.
Like all new parents, they had been overjoyed by Vani’s birth, she was God’s gift to them. Full of dreams to raise her as their princess, buying her frilly frocks and fancy pink clips, they brought her home. But only if yellow would give pink a chance….
A few days after her birth, they noticed that she had yellow eyes and urine. Her stools were clay white. The idea of routine newborn jaundice that resolves in a few days was reassuring, but they began to worry when she was still jaundiced well into her second month of life. Medical tests confirmed that she had biliary atresia. She needed urgent surgery and was operated at 57 days of life. Thus began her war with the disease.
The cure that had been anticipated with her surgery was never to be. It only left her worse with repeated episodes of infection in her gut as it had been connected to her liver. She received multiple courses of antibiotics for the next few months. She would get a little better and be discharged from hospital, only to be back again in a week or so. This happened half a dozen times. Finally she was then brought to Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi, frail, emaciated and struggling for her life.
She was put on ventilatory support as her blood grew deadly bacteria for which she was treated with heavy antibiotics. Thankfully, she responded well and her infection was controlled. But her doctors knew that her only chance for survival was to have a liver transplant. However, she weighed just 6 kgs, had been ill for what seemed forever, her liver had failed and infection would return any time. They could not wait for her to gain weight and grow stronger for the surgery. This was the only window of opportunity. She was on top of her infection and a very high risk liver transplant was performed.
Out went her diseased liver with all its hidden foci of infection and along with it her misfortune. Worst fears of her not coming out alive from the surgery were allayed when she was wheeled out of the operation theatre after the 12 daunting hours of surgery. She was a fighter, she looked better as each day passed and the real Vani surfaced. Vani with white eyes, soft belly with no distension, kicking her way to good health. Within 3 weeks she was home, never to be hospitalised again in the 7 years that have elapsed after her transplant.
Life had triumphed, had given her the joy of childhood in her parental home, with many more to grow up for. A pink wedding dress, perhaps?
|The Clinical Perspective Vani had been ill for too long, was very weak due to her chronic liver disease, repeated infections and prolonged hospitalization. This made her transplant very high risk and early complications like flare up of infection and vessel thrombosis were feared. However, she had a dramatic recovery after receiving the new healthy liver.