KARACHI - Muhammad Ahmed Baloch, a 40-day-old baby from Dera Allah Yar, Balochistan has become the first patient in Pakistan to survive on an artificial heart-lung machine for three days at Aga Khan University Hospital.
“We had to create a hole in his heart, between the right and left chambers, so that the bloods could mix better,” said Dr Mehnaz Atiq, the paediatric cardiologist.On one month, Ahmed was ready for the next step, an operation that ‘switches’ the heart’s blood vessels back to their normal position and would permanently correct the problem.
The operation itself went well, but after the surgery, Ahmed’s blood pressure started to drop and it soon became evident that he needed help for this failing heart. His pediatric cardiac surgeon, Dr Muneer Amanullah and pediatric cardiologist, Dr Babar Hasan agreed that artificial heart support would provide the time needed for his heart to rest, recover and function properly.
To save Ahmed’s life, the paediatric cardiac and critical care team – assisted by Dr Asif Hasan from UK - had to set-up a customised heart-lung bypass system that acted like an ECMO (Extra-Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine, which is not available anywhere in Pakistan. It was the first such use of an ECMO procedure in the country.
“Although the ECMO period of 72 hours was most intensive for all team members, doctors and nurses, none of us can forget the amazing moment when the artificial support was taken off and the baby’s heart started beating on its own,” recalls Dr Amanullah, consultant pediatric cardiac surgeon. “His heart has fully recovered now and hopefully he is going home.”
Commenting on the procedure, Prof Anita Zaidi, Chair, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, said that this was an extremely technically demanding undertaking. “AKUH were successful shows how advanced and sophisticated our paediatric cardiac services and critical care team have become in a short space of time.”
The Hospital’s Patient Welfare Programme and the Patients’ Behbud Society for AKUH has supported Ahmed’s family. “We couldn’t have afforded this surgery without the hospital’s assistance and very grateful for it,” said Sher Ahmed Baloch, Ahmed’s grandfather, a primary schoolteacher in Dera Allah Yar.