A tiny baby boy born weighing just 1 pound successfully underwent heart surgery in India recently.
The Times of India reports baby S.P. Jain of Udaipur, India is believed to be the smallest baby to successfully undergo heart surgery for patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA, a congenital heart defect where the two major arteries in the heart fail to disconnect.
Jain was born prematurely after about 28 weeks in his mother’s womb. He weighed 470 grams (1.04 pounds) at birth, according to the report.
Two weeks later, doctors performed a complicated surgery using miniature surgical tools to fix the problem with Jain’s heart.
“The baby had very weak muscles, rib cage and almost all the body parts were very weak. It was like walking on a tight rope but we succeeded,” said Dr Sunil Jangid, chief neonatologist at Geetanjali Medical College & Hospital and Jeevanta Hospital.
Jain’s heart defect is fairly rare but occurs more frequently with premature babies, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Before birth, a baby’s aorta and pulmonary arteries are connected by a blood vessel that helps blood circulation. When a baby is born, the blood vessel is supposed to close and disconnect the arteries; but sometimes it fails to do so. Medicine often will correct the problem, but heart surgery sometimes is necessary when the medication does not work, HHS reports.
Cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon Dr Sanjay Gandhi told the news outlet that any surgery on a premature infant is risky.
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“There were many risks involved like respiratory distress syndrome, brain/lungs internal bleeding, feeding intolerance, developmental problems, etc., and above all survival rate up to 55% only,” Gandhi said.
Jain is in intensive care in the hospital, but doctors said he is doing well. They said he is gaining weight and now weighs about 600 grams (1.3 pounds).
The little boy’s family described him as a “miracle.”
“He is so brave that he has survived so many odds with such low weight being a pre-term neonate. Our prayers are answered,” they told the news outlet.
Research indicates premature and low-birth weight babies are surviving at a greater rate than ever before thanks to modern technology.
A study published in 2015 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 23 percent of premature infants are surviving birth as early as 22 weeks. Yet, the study also found that some hospitals are not giving babies treatment at this early age, despite modern medical advancements that potentially could save their lives.