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World Heart Day - Vandana’s Victory

On World Heart Day, let’s take a moment to think of all the kids in the world, and most importantly where we live in India who suffer from Congenital Heart Defects. Amongst the many children whose lives we have been able to change by providing financial support there is one special little lady who wanted to contribute towards raising awareness on World Heart Day.

Her name is Vandana.

Her case was brought to light recently, as we are known as a Foundation dealing with Heart Disorders. The case was taken on as we aim to save as many little lives as possible. Beautiful, smiley Vandana has a twin sister and a younger brother. Her father Satya Prakash is an accountant and her doting mother Pinki is a housewife who makes sure everything at home is working like clock-work and her children are well looked after and loved.

Her parents recall when Vandana was just six months old she developed pneumonia, so they rushed her to a government aided hospital where she was prescribed medicines. During examination, the pediatrician noticed that the little baby girl was showing symptoms breathing difficulty and more disturbingly, she detected an irregular murmur. An echo was done at a different hospital which showed that little Vandana had a hole in between the lower chambers of her heart – commonly known as a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD).

Pinki and Satya Prakash could feel their life slowly caving in, “how is this possible?” They thought to themselves. Everything had been perfect, but that’s how life works doesn’t it? At the blink of an eye everything can change. The doctors told them that the medicines would quite possibly work, and to return for a follow up after a couple of years.

The parents felt a little relieved, they were hopeful that this could be fixed if they gave it just a little bit of time. Unfortunately, as time passed and Vandana continued to lead a life of normalcy – or so she wished, her condition began to deteriorate. She had started to go to school and one day fainted on school grounds. The staff ensured she was rushed to hospital where she was resuscitated. Pinki knew that despite being hopeful, their prayers were not answered... their daughter was suffering. Before Vandana got discharged from the hospital, the family were counseled and told to go consult a Pediatric Cardiologist.

A private hospital? This was well beyond what they had imagined. They had no means to take their daughter to one, three children and only one flowing income of Rs 6000 per month made it close to impossible.

For a few days they spoke to other family members to try and gain some more counsel, some direction because they were completely lost. Luckily, a relative of theirs knew a doctor in Max Hospital, Saket so her father took her there and after all tests, it was confirmed – she was suffering from VSD and required device closure in Cath Lab which is less invasive as at that time luckily, the hole in her heart had good margins.

Max Hospital has been one of our partner hospitals since 2007, we work closely with them where we get referral cases such as Vandana. With the support from our CSR partner WPP India CSR Foundation, we were able to financially aid Vandana’s surgery and take the burden away from her parents. They could spend their energy focusing on being by their daughter’s bedside to give her courage and support and not worry about compromising on her treatment in any way.

Our team has met Vandana on a few occasions and every meeting that little girl doesn’t fail to light up the entire room. Her enthusiasm to learn, her positivity, resilience is absolutely remarkable. She has aspirations, she aims for the stars and fights for her future and is able to do so because she was granted another chance at life.

This is what Vandana had to say when we met her last… “I still remember to protect me my father did not leave any stone unturned. As long as he could keep it a secret, he did – that I was just not well. I remember from Class 5 to Class 8, no one told me properly what the problem was. They didn’t want it to worry me, they didn’t want to worry or make me sad.

I remember in Class 9, I really wanted to participate in Karate, a friend of mine had mentioned to my ma’am that I had a heart problem and so my ma’am ensured that I didn’t participate to obviously make sure nothing bad happens. She sent me back to the class, and I felt so upset and broken at that time because I really wanted to participate.

After the surgery though I have been able to participate in Karate, and I no longer feel left out! I have even received a certificate from IIT and at the moment I am preparing for national level which is very exciting as my dreams are slowly coming true. I also love PE in school, definitely one of my favourite subjects. Now I don’t struggle the way I used to – I love to read, it has been thing I have always been able to do and enjoyed so much.

When I grow up I want to help others medically the way Genesis Foundation, a foundation dealing with heart disorders has helped me – I want to be a dialysis specialist. I am studying hard right now in Class 10, so I do well in my board exams next year and my dreams come true. I have very supportive parents – especially my father. Late at night when my eyes start closing from studying he is the one who makes me tea or gives me some milk. He is always encouraging me to study and is a big emotional and mental support.

In the community we live in – people always think marriage is the best option for a girl to get stable and happy – but my parents and I do not share this vision. They dream my dreams – and that is to study and reach for the stars.

I have two siblings and before the surgery I used to feel so left out because both of them have very active lifestyles – running, playing, cycling – and I wasn’t able to do any of that. Now I cycle freely, nothing is stopping me. Even my friends – Akanshi and Aradhana tell me they can see a big difference in me since the treatment. Now the sky is the limit.”

-Contributed by Vandana (our GF braveheart) and Simran Sagar (Content & Design Lead)