Struggle to save baby Bhakita goes on, albeit grindingly

Baby Bhakita is back from India. She did not undergo heart surgery as planned as it was too risky. Instead, a joint cardiac meeting in India after running tests discovered that Bhakita has more heart deformities than earlier diagnosed in Kenya and have put her on life-saving medication until she is ready for the critical operation.

The deformities require six months intensive treatment to prepare her for several other operations that will be done in three phases.

"The doctors did all tests that had been done in Kenya. They found more deformities in addition to what had been found in Kenya," Bhakita's Mother told Capital FM News.

The doctors in India discovered that Bhakita's heart has three holes, a condition that had not been diagnosed in Kenya.

"Investigations showed she has a big hole in the heart. At the bottom part of the heart, the doctors also found two more small holes," the doctors explained.

In Kenya the doctors' investigations showed that Bhakita's clean and dirty blood was mixing because she had only one valve instead of two to separate the heart into four chambers.

The doctor then recommended for corrective surgery to be done in India.

The results in India further showed that Bhakita's heart was also twisted such that the pulmonary artery that normally originates from the right side of the heart had originated from the left side and vice versa.

"She has that abnormality of a twisted heart," the doctor's report concluded.

The doctors explained to Bhakita's mother that because of the extent of abnormalities of her heart and also her age, it was important to sustain the current situation with medication until she is one year old before operating on her.

"They told me no operation could be done in her condition, if any operation was done, she could not wake up from the operating bed," Bhakita's mum tearfully recalled.

The doctors said with the medication prescribed, it was safer to wait for it to work and also for Bhakita to be older as well as add some weight.

The doctors said at one year, her heart features will have developed fully and will be more visible.

During the six months, the medication given to Bhakita will also help the two smaller holes to start closing such that the doctors will perform an operation only on the bigger hole to correct the heart condition.

"If surgery is done, the hole is too big to close the walls. The doctors said with the medication given, the holes can start closing with time so that an operation can be done on the bigger hole."

The doctors further said Bhakita's condition was sustainable as she was not in any distress associated with heart failure or breathing complications.

In their view, with the medication, Bhakita will live beyond six months.

"Multiple saturation readings have varied between 80 to 85 percent. The child is not in congestive heart failure. There is no respiratory distress and she is accepting feeds well," Max Health Care Super Speciality Hospital Director Dr Kulbhusna Dagar explained.

On further tests, doctors discovered that Baby Bhakita's lower part of the body had turned blue.

Initially, doctors in Kenya had said once her body turned blue, her organs would eventually collapse.

But the doctors in India prescribed medication for one year that would contain the situation to keep Bhakita alive by ensuring there is oxygen flow in her delicate body.

"Because we had been told here in Kenya that she has to undergo an operation within six months before her body turns blue, when went to India we were given medication that will contain that condition including the turning of blue in her body so that that blue does not become too blue, until when she is one year to undergo the operation," her mother explained.

Bhakita who is six months old now will require monthly reviews by cardiologist who will send a report every three months to her doctor in India.

The doctor in India will then analyse her reports which will help him determine her first surgery in six months time.

Due to the multiple heart defects, the doctors said Bhakita will have operations in three phases - the first when she is one year old, the second at four and the third one at four-and-half years old.

Bhakita's mother who said she owed her daughter's trip to India to well-wishers said she spent about Sh500,000 out of the Sh1.6 million donated to her.

She said it was also her first time to enter a plane and throughout her flight to India, her mantra was for God to ensure Bhakita returned to Kenya alive.

"I was scared it was first time to be in a plane, I was worried about Bhakita's condition because I had been told she had low oxygen," she recalled.

"But throughout the flight, I prayed very hard, I told God 'because you helped me, Kenyans contributed and gave me money and we got enough money within three days to take Bhakita to India for the surgery, I only prayed to God that we come back with Baby Bhakita alive. I said even if she has to die. It is better she dies in Kenya than me coming back without her."

"For me it is a miracle that we are back and baby Bhakita has medication. I believe God has brought us this far and he will take us far," she said as she fought back her tears.

She told her well-wishers that the remaining contributions will be kept safely in the special account created for Bhakita for future treatment and surgery.

In India, she bought a complete dose that Bhakita will use until she is one year old.

This article was published by CAPITAL FM NEWS on Aug 6, 2015