21-year-old Gokulapriyan comes from an extremely downtrodden family which has hung around hospitals for the most part of the past two decades dealing with a rare congenital heart defect that left their daughter mentally retarded and their son requiring multiple surgeries. Gokulpriyan is now in a critical condition and needs a heart transplant to stay alive.
“We are from Tiruppur in Tamil Nadu. My name is Vijayalakshmi. I’m a home-maker. My husband, Subramanian is a bus driver. We have two children, 13-year-old Divya Keerthi and Gokula. He has just finished B.Tech. He wanted to study well and go work in a good place so our family stops having financial troubles.”
“Both our children were born with this terrible problem. We are not that educated but we know the meaning of Familial Atrio-ventricular Node Conduction Defect and Atrial Septal Defect of the Secundum Type. It is more than just a hole in the heart and low pumping efficiency. My daughter had a surgery to fix it, but not before it affected her brain and left her mentally retarded. For the most part of the last decade, we have been in hospitals trying to get her to talk properly or understand us. Gokula also had the surgery. He was fine. Until things got worse. Now we feel like we are losing both our children.”
“There was a leakage in the valve, and we did not know about it. He was taking medicines to manage his condition after surgery. We thought everything was fine until he was in 3rd year B.Com. Suddenly he started having severe diarrhea. He could not digest anything properly. We took him to the doctor. They ran tests again. They suspected it could be the heart condition. We immediately went to Madras Medical Mission.”
The Echo results showed that Gokulapriyan’s heart had deteriorated over the years. His tricuspid valve was leaking severely and the medicines had not helped. He was immediately implanted with a dual chamber pacemaker (Boston Advantio) for a complete heart block.
Now, his condition is getting worse by the day with pumping capacity at 10%. “He is giddy all the time, and sometimes faints. He is not able to eat anything. He does not even sit up. He was dreaming of finishing college and going to work, and now it tears my heart to see my son struggling to survive every day.” Doctors at MMM have re-evaluated him and recommended heart transplant surgery as a treatment option. Since Gokulapriyan’s condition is critical, he needs this surgery at the earliest.
“Ever since they were born we have spent more time at clinics and hospitals. Hope always seems out of our reach. My husband keeps working hard at his job to earn more so we can have them cured. He yearns to hear our daughter talk. She hardly knows what is going on around her. We spent most of our money on her treatment. Our earnings and savings have gone into keeping them alive, and even then, our son seems to be slipping away!” cries Vijayalakshmi.
The family has spent over Rs. 15 lakhs to treat both siblings. They are unable to incur the expenses for this unprecedented medical crisis on Subramanian’s salary of Rs. 12,000/month. They have discharged Gokulapriyan from the hospital until they can arrange funds for the surgery.
Gokulapriyan’s dream of pursuing a Master’s degree has now come to a standstill as survival has taken priority. The cost of this surgery is estimated at Rs. 20,00,000. After the transplant, he has a long struggle to fund medications for life that would cost around Rs. 30,000/month.
“We are trying to save a 20 here, 30 there, borrow from everyone we know. I am not sure how much we can pool, but we will do everything we can to save our son.”
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