It was a phone call that offered a great amount of relief to the parents of a 15-day-old baby from Kasargod, who were being frantically transported from Mangaluru to Thiruvananthapuram by ambulance for the infant’s heart valve surgery. At a time when Child Protect Team, the NGO that was coordinating the transfer of the child, was struggling to cut short the road journey from 15 hours to 10 hours, Kerala government intervened and offered to carry out the treatment in Kochi, rather than going all the way to Thiruvananthapuram.
The treatment, which was initially scheduled in the state capital, will now take place in Amrita hospital in Kochi. After travelling almost 400 kilometres, the ambulance with the child reached the hospital in Kochi at 4.40 pm on Tuesday.
Kerala Health Minister KK Shylaja also announced that the government will bear all expenses of the treatment. After seeking the consent of the parents, it was decided that the surgery will take place in Kochi and not in Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram, as scheduled earlier.
A team of doctors at Amrita Hospital, including Dr Brijesh and Dr Krishnakumar, will attend to the infant’s medical case. The child is currently in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and will be kept under 24-hour observation.
The ambulance, with the license plate KL 60 J 7739, started the journey from Mangaluru at 11 am on Tuesday. This journey was live telecast on Facebook. With the help of police personnel and volunteers on the ground, the ambulance managed to reach Kerala in a few hours.
The doctors at the Mangaluru hospital, where the child was undergoing treatment, discouraged an overnight journey as the child was not stable yet. As the family would get the best treatment at affordable rates at a government hospital, it was decided to shift the infant to hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.
The child could not be airlifted due to the risk of breathing and pressure variation.
“Right now, each and every moment is precious to the child,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. “This decision was taken considering the fact that it would be risky to travel all the way to Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute. We also ensured that Amrita has all the required facilities to treat the child.”
The treatment would be provided free of cost under the Kerala government’s Hridyam initiative to support children with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD).