The Govt of Punjab under the National Rural Health Mission chose the Christian Medical College & Hospital in Ludhiana to be one of the few hospitals in Punjab to conduct surgeries for any Govt or Govt aided school going child totally free of cost. This is in view of the fact that there is an alarmingly high incidence of heart defects from birth (called congenital heart defects) in India. The incidence is about 8 cases in every 1000 births. Every year about 2 lakh children in India are born with a congenital heart defect, but only 5,000 get treated. In India the valves of children get damaged by rheumatic fever and quite a few of them need surgery – but again most do not get treated in time.The reason for non treatment is a combination of ignorance and a lack of finances. Most heart defects can be treated in a single hospitalization with a good chance that the person will grow to be a normal productive adult. The CMC & H was chosen in view of the excellent infrastructure of CMC and the expertise and skills of the cardiac team.
Dr Harinder Singh Bedi – Head of Cardio Vascular & Thoracic Surgery at CMC & H – has had extensive experience of treating children with complex heart diseases in his tenure at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Chidren in Sydney, Australia and at the Escorts Heart Institute New Delhi where he started the paediatric heart surgery programme after returning from abroad. Incidentally Dr Bedi’s surgical team has recently successfully completed the surgical treatment of 1000 cases of children with heart disease. Under the NRHM 50 cases have so far been operated in CMC & H. No case has been refused surgery. 95% of the cases have been operated upon within 2 days of referral. There were a few cases who were refused surgery by other reputed Institutes. One of these was Miss Gurmukhi from Gurdaspur. She had a large hole in the heart with severe damage to the heart and lungs and was refused surgery all over India. In her, Dr Bedi devised a new technique of putting in an innovative valve system in the hole so that it would open up in cases of emergency. Gurmukhi has made a remarkable recovery and is a happy and active child now. The other members of Dr Bedi’s surgical team are Dr A Joseph, Dr A Gupta, Dr V Tewarson, Sr Sanjiv , Dr Meenu and Dr Prashant.
Dr Bedi said that most heart defects can be fully treated so that the child has a normal life and an active lifestyle. In fact some of Dr Bedi’s operated patients are officers in the Indian Army and pilots. Their hearts - according to Dr Bedi - are the hearts of champions as they have overcome all odds to be productive members of the country.
Dr Bedi added that :
the aim at CMC & H is: ‘To give each child a childhood';
and our dream is ‘To to give each a normal adulthood’.
The function – titled “The Heart of a Champion” – is basically a Thanksgiving to the Almighty and to the Govt of Punjab and to the Health Minister who has initiated this life giving programme. The aim is also to create awareness about Heart Disease and its treatment and to give tips to the parents and the children about basic dental hygiene and nutrition. Dr Bedi said that after congenital heart defects the most important problem in children was of bad lifestyle habits which get inculcated in them at a young age – these include junk food, overindulgence by parents, reduced physical activity and addiction to drugs and tobacco.
The children who had been operated under this scheme gave a lively and spirited performance of dance and songs which was greatly appreciated by all. An educative brochure was released by the Health Minister – Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla - on the occasion. The Hon’able Minister said that she was very impressed with the excellent surgical results of CMC and the performance by the children.
The Guest from Govt. were Principal Secretary Health Mr Satish Chandra Dr.K.S. Dhillon Asstt. Director School Health, Director of Family Health Dr Ashok Nayyar, Dr.J.P.Singh, Director Health Services and Dy Dir Dr KS Dhillon were also present on the occasion.
Dr.Kanwal Masih, Medical Superintendent, CMC& H, Dr.William Bhatti, Principle Christian Medical College and Hospital were also present on the occasion.
The Principal Secretary Health Mr Satish Chandra and the Director of Family Health Dr Ashok Nayyar and Dy Dir Dr KS Dhillon were also present on the occasion.
Dr Abraham G Thomas – Director – told that CMC & H is committed to bringing International level care to the children of this region rate so that no child should be denied therapy just because of cost.