Bengaluru: While conducting an out-reach clinic in far-flung areas of the State, Aster CMI’s Integrated Liver Care (ILC) team came across the case of an eight-year-old child hailing from Raichur, who had a severe liver illness and required a liver transplant immediately. The economic constraints of the family compelled them to resign themselves to their fate. Efforts taken by the team of doctors at Aster CMI brought a new ray of hope for the family and ensured a healthier future for the child.
Few years ago, Santhosh, who was a three-month-old baby, developed large bruises over his arms while being cuddled by his loving parents. A detailed examination by a local doctor highlighted that Santhosh’s blood was not clotting properly and some temporary treatment was instituted at that instance. Failing to identify the cause, the child’s family made regular visits to the doctors across the region including Hyderabad. Numerous investigations and constant medications failed to bring about any improvement in his condition, leaving the parents in despair. The child’s health deteriorated and after a few months, he developed a serious progressive liver illness. It was later identified that bleeding under his skin had led to easy bruising in the child which had occurred due to the abnormal synthesis of clotting factor by liver disease indicating liver failure.
Owing to their economic condition, parents were left helpless and heart-broken whenever they looked at their child. Over the ensuing years, the child’s growth was stunted and he developed fluid accumulation in his belly. The case was further referred to Aster’s ILC team during their visit to Vijaypur. The team examined the child’s situation and found out that he had advanced cirrhosis with its resultant secondary effects including growth retardation in the child. The child’s parents were counselled regarding the need for urgent liver transplantation as a lifesaving therapy. The mother volunteered as a living liver donor under the Affordable Liver Transplant Initiative (an ILC and Aster CMI joint program) which raised 12.5 lakhs for the child’s treatment. Furthermore, realizing that there was hope for the child’s survival, family friends decided to pitch in as well to ensure that treatment was made possible for the child. The child was brought to Aster CMI Hospital and underwent a liver transplant surgery in December 2018. The result of this was a healthy playful child who is now 5 months out of the liver transplant and back at his home in Raichur with his family.
“Liver disease in children is a unique medical problem which affects all facts of a child's life- physical, mental and emotional. Usually, these children are malnourished, jaundiced with sub-optimal digestion, have other co-morbidity involving gut, lung, heart and brain. Liver transplant gives them a new lease of life with most of the organ changes reversing with 3 months’ time. Children are more resilient and recover well to a new fruitful life ahead. Technically it is one the most complex post-surgical event to be looked after. The ILC team’s effort to reach out to the remotest areas to make such complex problem affordable is indeed commendable." said Dr Chetan Ginigeri, Consultant Pediatrics & Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Aster CMI Hospital.
Aster’s ILC team includes specialist doctors- Dr Sonal Asthana, Dr Rajiv Lochan J and Dr Mallikarjun Sakpal who have been adopting several methods apart from the outreach program to make liver care affordable and manageable for all. The team of expert doctors have also devised ways to dramatically reduce the cost of liver transplants by making use of crowdfunding, corporate sponsorships from CSR budgets, cross-subsidies, matched funding and tie-ups with state governments which helps in creating a budget pool leading to overall reduction in the cost of the surgery and further reducing the burden on a patient’s pocket.
In a bid to resolve the challenge faced due to lack of access to transplantation, especially for children, the hospital and doctors have been working together to provide a solution to the critical problem. While the cost of a normal liver transplant ranges from Rs 12 to Rs 30 lakh, the ILC team at Aster CMI has been able to radically bring down the cost of a transplant and post-care management to just Rs 2.5 lakh. With the use of this unique method, Aster hospitals have been able to subsidize the overall cost for liver transplantation for children, Aster’s ILC team has so far performed 64 transplants for the needy children and raised Rs 7 crore approximately to support this initiative.
“Children are the hope of our country and society, therefore safeguarding their health and future is of paramount importance. The Aster ILC’s affordable liver transplant programme is a small step towards this goal. Our vision is to ensure that no child who comes to us is turned away for lack of funds and are looked after irrespective of their finances.” said Dr Rajiv Lochan J, Sr. Consultant - HPB & Transplant Surgery, Aster CMI Hospital.
(Information by Akash Mehrotra)
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