In a rare surgery, doctors in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta has successfully restored the liver that was growing inside the chest of a seven-month-old baby.
The child was discharged Saturday.
Right after his birth, Rakesh Das had started gasping for breath. As the months passed, the boy remained malnourished. A few weeks ago, he developed severe respiratory problems and was rushed to the Institute of Child Health (ICH).
"During an MRI scan, we found that the child was suffering from Morgagni's hernia - a condition in which the liver slips into the chest cavity due to a congenital defect in the diaphragm," said paediatric surgeon Parthapratim Gupta, who conducted the surgery.
The baby's father Madhab Das is a fisherman in Kakdwip. He and his wife had been doing rounds of clinics in the Sunderbans before they landed up at the† ICH. Here, too, doctors were initially puzzled as the chest X-ray did not reveal the deformity.
"This kind of congenital defect is very rare - occurring in one out of 1,00,000 live births. Only after the MRI scan were we sure about the deformity," said Gupta.
Fifty per cent of the baby's liver was growing inside his chest through an oval-shaped three-by-three-inch cavity. Since it was occupying the space of the lung, the latter was being pushed up and not allowed to develop.
Babies with such deformities fail to survive for long. They cannot take food properly as feeding them leads to choking. They develop respiratory infections and ultimately die of respiratory problems. If Rakesh had not been operated on immediately, he would have lived for another year at the most, doctors said.
In the two-hour surgery on December 12, the herniated left lobe of the liver was pushed back to the abdomen. The defect was repaired and covered with a prolene mesh. The poor couple did not have to pay any of the hospital charges and the postgraduate trainees at ICH chipped in with funds for the medication, reports the Times of India.
"I hope my son grows up like other normal babies. I am thankful to the hospital and the doctors for the operation," said mother Shefali Das.
Gupta said feeding the baby would not be a problem now and he will attain normal weight in due course.