Polio had left Zosiama on all fours since he was a child, a condition doctors had diagnosed as incurable. When he suffered a massive heart attack last week, doctors dismissed his chances of survival as remote. Cardiac intervention would be impossible because of complications resulting from the polio.
However, a cardiac surgery team in the city pulled off the first-ever stent angioplasty on a polio-afflicted patient. Around two weeks ago, doctors at the B.M. Birla Heart Research Centre, in Alipore, received an SOS from the Mizoram government, that it was sending a patient with a massive heart attack for necessary treatment.
When 54-year-old Zosiama, a government employee from Aizawl, “crawled” into the hospital chamber, doctors did not give any treatment much chance at success.
“His legs were folded and there was an acute angulation between his abdomen and thighs. He had nearly 80 per cent heart blockage and his disability made surgery very risky,” said cardiologist Tarun Kumar Praharaj.
Zosiama had already consulted half-a-dozen doctors with the same prognosis and the father of two was on the verge of giving up. “I knew that if I did not get treatment soon, it would be all over for me. But, my disability came in the way of everything,” said Zosiama.
But then the patient started having recurrent bouts of anginal pain, and he requested doctors to do something to lessen the agony. Explains Praharaj: “I spoke to several consultants, but no one seemed to have worked on a heart patient with such a disability before.”
But with Zosiama’s condition deteriorating, Praharaj decided to take up the angioplasty challenge. The biggest hurdle was laying him down on the operating table. Zosiama’s legs required supports to keep them as straight as possible. Doctors also found that the angulation made it difficult for the doctor to start the angiography from the femoral (thigh) route.
“We, however, managed somehow to manipulate the balloon and the stent into the left anterior descending arteries and cleared all the blockages,” said Praharaj. After several hours, doctors completed the procedure and Zosiama was out of danger. “I am feeling great and all I want now is to go back home,” smiled Zosiama.