Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable spirit to survive. When you are born into a world with the odds stacked against you, you have two ways of looking at it: you can either let it consume you or face it head-on. Baby Ashley’s story is one of divine strength that compelled her father Pedro Alberto Maunde to travel to India for the treatment of his baby daughter. Although, the family’s fight is still a long way from over, their resolve to see it through to the end has never been stronger. This is their story.
Baby Ashley was born with a Ventricular Septal Defect or VSD, a congenital birth defect that causes a sizable hole in the lower chambers of a baby’s heart. In baby Ashley’s case, her heart had three holes, and to make matters worse she was diagnosed with Down syndrome. While pregnant, both Ashley’s parents and their gynecologist anticipated minor issues with Ashley’s heart after spotting a small abnormality during a check-up. However, her diagnosis wasn’t confirmed until after she was born. “The doctor listened to her heart and heard a murmur. He went for ECHO scans and they found a large VSD, a small ASD and a leak on her heart valve,” said Pedro.
As Baby Ashley grew, her VSD was monitored closely, but it was apparent that something was not right. “At three months, the doctors advised us to go in for an open heart surgery,” Pedro said, “we really weren’t sure if baby Ashley would have a normal life or life at all.”
It quickly became evident that Ashley would need heart surgery to repair the hole and her heart’s rhythm. “We wanted the best treatment for my daughter and weren’t worried about the costs”, said Pedro, “we got in touch with Vaidam Health to help us find the best treatment.” At this point, Ashley’s diagnosis was an extremely high risk, and she would need immediate specialized care. Their case manager came through for them by providing the family with the right treatment options for baby Ashley at the ideal time. After a quick deliberation, Pedro decided to get baby Ashley treated at one of the best pediatric cardiology hospitals in India i.e., Medanta Multispecialty Hospital in Gurgaon; a decision that may have potentially given Ashley the best chance at life.
The Maundes arrived in New Delhi on the 24th of August, and were taken to Medanta Hospital on arrival. “I thought I would lose her. I felt so helpless because there was nothing I could do but rely on the knowledge of the doctors and just trust them,” Pedro said. “They gave me all the hope I needed.” Fortunately, baby Ashley was in the good hands of Dr. Amit Misri, Senior Cardiologist at Medanta. Dr. Misri would see to it that baby Ashley received the best medical intervention possible being determined to see her through.
The words “open heart surgery” would make anyone nervous, especially the parents of such a small patient. On the day of the operation, Pedro hoped for the best and prepared for the worst. “I was expecting one month of hell,” Pedro said. “It wasn’t that at all. We were so well received at the hospital and all the staff was kind and gentle with us. Just before the operation, Dr. Misri came to me and assured me that everything was going to be alright.”
Medanta Medicity is home to one of India’s largest pediatric cardiovascular programs. The hospital cares for hundreds of children for a number of conditions ranging from mild to severe and performs countless surgeries, like the one that repaired Ashley’s heart. While the surgery may have been routine to the medical staff at Medanta, Pedro was overwhelmingly surprised by not only the speed of recovery, but also the amount of compassion and attentiveness they received. “They provided outstanding care,” Pedro said. “The medical staff was constantly by our bedside for if we needed anything.”
Ashley was discharged after only six days, almost a day earlier than planned. Over the course of the next month, Ashley’s heart was closely monitored, all along being carefully rehabilitated under the observation of Dr. Misri- one of the top pediatric cardiologist in India.
The Maundes finally returned to Mozambique and just a week after being home, baby Ashley was already seeing considerable signs to improvement. For Pedro, baby Ashley’s surgery was his first encounter with Medanta Hospital, but one he would remember for a long time. “I will not forget this experience, it has most undoubtedly changed my life for the better” said Pedro.
Vaidam would like to wish baby Ashley a speedy recovery and a wholesome and long life ahead.