A month-old premature baby recently underwent a surgery to correct her malformed food pipe at the Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital (KKCTH), here.

The infant was born in Tiruchi and was diagnosed at birth. She was frothing at the mouth, as she could not swallow her saliva. Such babies have breathing difficulties also, as the saliva gets into the lungs, said neonatologist N. Chandrakumar, under whose care the baby was at KKCTH.

The doctors in Tiruchi found that the infant’s oesophagus was totally blocked. She was diagnosed as having trachaeo-esophageal fistula, where the food pipe abruptly ends and the remaining half joins the wind pipe causing breathing difficulties. As a result the child was not able to feed either.

The child’s mother had been undergoing treatment for infertility for nearly a decade. Adding to the complication was the fact that the baby was born premature, in the 32nd week, and weighed just 1.1 kg. The family was informed that there was nothing to be done as the baby was tiny and would not withstand surgery. A doctor who knew the family, however, referred the case to KKCTH in Chennai.

The KKCTH team brought the child from Tiruchi on January 15 and stabilised her for a day in the neonatal intensive care unit before taking up surgery.

“During surgery, we found that her lungs were badly damaged because of ventilation. The surgery went on for almost four-and-half hours. Post-surgery, the baby was on invasive ventilator support for almost two months,” the doctor said.

The baby has now stayed in the hospital for four months.

According to doctors one in 4,000 babies are born with such a condition. But the pre-term delivery process and the low birth weight of the baby made the surgery that much more difficult, Dr. Chandrakumar said.

The team of surgeons led by S. Namasivayam and anaesthetist S. Ramesh, performed the corrective surgery.

The doctors said the baby was not only feeding normally but had also gained weight, now. She was showing normal developmental signs of a two-month-old baby, such as recognising her mother and smiling up at her.

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