Every Breath Is Painful, Saritha Needs Major Surgery | Milaap

Every Breath Is Painful, Saritha Needs Major Surgery

For most of her 11 years, Saritha has been in and out of the hospital. Even something as simple as swallowing food or water triggers severe wheezing, and she has to be rushed to the hospital where she needs machines to help her breathe again.

Saritha has Esophageal Atresia and Tracheoesophageal Fistula, two severe issues in her throat that make it difficult for her to swallow. Initial surgeries have led to some improvement in her condition, but she needs major reconstructive surgery to get better and her parents can’t afford her medical expenses.

She underwent a major surgery only days after her birth

Arul Samy and Selvanayagam were overjoyed with the arrival of their baby girl, Saritha, in 2009. She was born after a smooth-sailing pregnancy and delivery, so they never expected that things would take a turn for the worse. But, only 3 days after her birth, Saritha had to undergo major surgery after it was discovered that she had issues with her oesophagus (food pipe) and trachea (windpipe). 

“We thought we had a healthy baby girl. Throughout my wife’s pregnancy, we were told that our baby was doing well in the womb and the doctors never detected any issues. We were just so happy to finally meet her and have our family of 4 complete. But then doctors said she needed a major surgery only 3 days after birth, without which she wouldn't be able to breathe, or swallow food and water...” - Arul Samy, father

Saritha’s oesophagus had not developed properly at birth. While this is dangerous in itself, scans revealed that her oesophagus and trachea were also connected instead of being two separate tubes.

She has to go to the hospital every 15 days

Despite being cleared of immediate risk after the surgery, Saritha wasn’t entirely out of the woods. Every day for the past 11 years, she has struggled to swallow food and water. Every 15 days or so, she has to be taken to a local hospital because she starts wheezing, and only machines can help clear the congestion. For more serious issues, her parents have had to take her on 6-hour bus journeys from their town to a bigger hospital in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

“When they first told us about her condition, we were so scared we were going to lose her. The doctors told us she was only out of immediate risk after her first surgery, but she still needed to continue her treatment and get two more surgeries in the future. All her life she has been struggling to survive, and even eating and drinking is so difficult for her. She is so lean that looking at her you wouldn’t think she’s 11 years old. This condition has destroyed her life even before it began. We just want for her to get the surgery and be able to live like a normal person.”

As a daily wage earner her father cannot afford the major surgery she needs

Saritha’s family comes from a poor background, and they’ve struggled all their lives to make ends meet. Her father, Arul Samy, is the sole breadwinner but his income is only enough for them to get by. Over the years they’ve spent a lot of money on Saritha’s treatment, going as far as to borrow from their family and even take loans. But now, they are at the end of their tether. They can’t even afford a room in the hospital and spend their nights either sleeping in the hospital waiting room or in the parking lot.

We’ve exhausted all our resources in our efforts to save our daughter. She’s very precious to us, and all we want is for her to grow up normally and lead a good life. She’s only ever wanted to go to school and have fun with her friends but her condition has stolen these opportunities from her. She recently underwent her second surgery, and is in recovery. But we have been told that with one more surgery Saritha will be able to get better soon and live normally like other kids her age, but I have no money to pay for it. You are my only hope now, please help us.

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Patient SARITHA.A is 11 years old, living in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu
Being treated in Psg Hospital, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

Receiving treatment for oesophagal aetrisia

Click here to know more about SARITHA.A