With each passing week, Emma Nkhung'ande felt her 17-year-old daughter’s heartbeat change. Lucy’s heart murmur, with an extra sound called a "thrill," grew more and more pronounced.
"I could feel it on my chest when I nursed her as a baby," Emma recalls, "like there was something rumbling or fluttering in her chest, almost like a butterfly."
Born 8 pounds and 9 ounces, Lucy was diagnosed with a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), a hole in the tissue between the heart's lower chambers. After this diagnosis, doctors monitored her heart with fetal echocardiograms, waiting to see if the hole would close on its own. Ever since Lucy gained weight and maintained a healthy skin colour. The murmur and shallow breathing, particularly during nursing, were the only signs something was wrong.
Now 17 years old, Lucy’s VSD hadn't closed and so her primary cardiologist in Malawi suggested she get treated in a foreign country. This was great news for Lucy, “I have never been outside my country, this was my first experience”, she said. After considering treatment options and relative costs calculations, the family decided to travel to India. “Our next move was to find a facilitator who would help us find the best cardiac hospitals in India and take care of necessary arrangements,” says Emma.
After considerable research online, the family stumbled on Vaidam.com. “We were quite impressed by the number of patients who had traveled from Africa to India for various treatments”, said Emma. The family left a query on the site expecting to receive a call within the next few days.
“We got a call the very next day from a very friendly lady from Vaidam. She gave us multiple options for hospitals in New Delhi. We subsequently sent her reports and began preparations to arrive in India”, said Emma. Having made all arrangements, the mother-daughter duo booked their tickets for New Delhi on the 24th of May.
Upon arriving at the airport, they were greeted by a Vaidam representative who accompanied them to their guest house. “We were going to visit BLK Super Speciality Hospital first and meet the doctor to understand the diagnosis”, said Emma. The necessary appointments were made and the two made their way to BLK Hospital, however, after consulting the resident cardiologist they were advised against surgery. Not sure about the diagnosis, the duo decided to try other hospitals.
Over the course of the next two weeks, multiple appointments were made at Medanta Hospital and Fortis Escorts Heart Institute. However, every consultation and subsequent tests results showed that Lucy did not require surgery. This was a huge relief for 17-year-old Lucy “I have always been a little afraid of going through with surgery, so I am much relieved”.
After consulting three different doctors from the top hospitals in India, the final conclusions were that Lucy takes medication for her Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). Over the next few weeks, Lucy was kept under keen observation with regular medications. Nonetheless, only within a week, there were considerable signs of improvement. “I feel less breathless now and the funny butterfly feeling has gone now”, said Lucy. Post the final consultation, Lucy was advised to continue her medication and allowed to return to Malawi.
The doctors have advised she take her medications regularly and return to India after a year for a follow-up check-up. For the moment, Lucy’s heart seems to be responding well to the medication. We wish her a speedy recovery and a healthy and happy future ahead.