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Congenital Heart Disease in India
Dr Neville Solomon
Cyanotic heart disease is when the child is not blue. It includes tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of great arteries, tricuspid atresia, total anomalous pulmonary venous connection (TAPVC) and truncus arteriosus. Many of the children suffering from cyanotic heart disease have to be dealt with as soon as they are born, else they will perish.
They require timely recognition and transfer to specialized cardiothoracic units geared for neonatal work. Most conditions are complex. Tetralogy of Fallot is the commonest cyanotic condition. The child has a defect in the heart and variable degree of block in the blood supply to the lungs. They require to be monitored by the pediatric cardiologist and either a shunt as a preliminary operation or a total intracardiac repair of the defect is required.

Transposition of great arteries is a gratifying surgery - arterial switch with excellent long-term results. The earlier they present, the better the results. They should ideally be operated in the first 3 weeks of life.

Babies with TAPVC can obstruct at any time and collapse. They should be operated upon without delay. Many of these children will have curative surgery. Some will require multiple interventions. All children operated should be under the follow-up of a specialized pediatric cardiologist.

The new Apollo Children’s Hospital in Chennai
The Apollo Children’s Hospital, Chennai is an initiative of Apollo Hospitals, Chennai to bring all the pediatric sub-specialties under one roof. Dedicated pediatric cardiologist, pediatric cardiac anaesthetist, perfusionist and pediatric cardiac surgical program are standard features. There is a dedicated operation theater and ICU for the pediatric cardiac surgical cases. There is also a fully equipped department of pediatric cardiology with all investigative facilities such as 2D echocardiography and 3D echocardiography. All interventional procedures are undertaken. Patients from Africa and the Middle East are already flocking in, understanding the quality of pediatric cardiac surgical work available.

The expense of saving children’s hearts
Cardiac care requires imposing infrastructure - and this costs money. Many parents cannot afford this. The Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) program was inaugurated at Apollo Hospital, Chennai on November 14, 2006. Thousands of children have been screened in free camps conducted all over Tamil Nadu. The SACH programs at Hyderabad and Chennai together have touched over 50,000 lives. Funds are always in short supply as many of these procedures require expensive equipment and disposable items. Visit and see if you would be able to donate, sponsor a child, volunteer or join SACH, if you are so led.
Dr Neville Solomonis Consultant Pediatric and Adult Cardiac Surgeon, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai.
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