He is only four days old, but has multiple congenital anomalies whose incidence rate is around one in every crore newborns around the world. Rohan is the first baby to be born in Calcutta with these multiple aberrations. Otherwise healthy, with metabolism like every other child his age, Rohan has two external genitals and two anal pores. He has one kidney, a hole in his heart (Ventricular Septal Defect), a slightly deformed spinal column, and a vertical ankle-bone alignment, which should have been horizontal.
For the past few days, Rohan has been under strict medical care in a central Calcutta nursing home. Doctors call his condition ‘Vacterl syndrome’. ‘Vacterl’ is an acronym for (V)ertebral anomalies, (A)nal atresia, congenital (C)ardiac diseases, (T)racheo (E)sophageal fistula, (R)enal anomalies and (L)imb defects. Doctors say Rohan is breathing normally and is also taking feeds without any problems. “He is perfectly all right, apart from the defects that can be rectified with time,” said paediatrician B.K. Manocha, part of a team of doctors evaluating Rohan’s condition.
After his birth at a Calcutta clinic, Rohan stunned the city’s medical fraternity. The boy’s parents, who are from Sinthee, in north Calcutta, contacted paediatric surgeon U.S. Chatterjee, who diagnosed the child’s condition as one of the rarest of rare cases.
Apart from the two external genitals, which are functioning normally, both anal pores open into the rectum. While the hole in the boy’s heart can be corrected easily, doctors are seeking medical opinion on the boy’s slightly under-developed spinal column and the defect in his ankles. “The alignment ought to have been horizontal, as with every other child, but here we find that he has a vertical alignment,” said surgeon Chatterjee, who is overseeing Rohan’s treatment.
Doctors have decided to go in for extensive reconstructive surgery on the child, one step at a time. “On Thursday, the boy will be taken to the operation theatre to seal one of the anal pores,” Manocha said. Later, he will be evaluated before other reconstructive surgeries are carried out. One of his two genitals will be removed only after he is two. “There could be other anomalies cropping up later. So, we have decided to be patient,” Chatterjee added.