Hope was a fading word for 16-year -old Shobha as she struggled with an ailment which made breathing and eating difficult for her.
Burdened with the upkeep of his Below Poverty Line (BPL) family, Shobha's father Chattu Prasad could not afford to get his daughter treated at a private hospital. Doctors whom he did manage to consult diagnosed the case as that of asthma.
But Shobha's suffering continued. Until one day when her condition deteriorated and she had to be taken to a private hospital.
Deepak Rosha, senior consultant for respiratory care at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, detected a small hole connecting the wind pipe with the food pipe to be at the root of the ailment.
"While investigating the case, I realised there was excessive damage in the left lung of the girl, which is not usual in asthma cases.
"We decided to carry out bronchoscopy on the patient, which revealed that there was a small hole connecting the windpipe with the food pipe. This opened intermittently to let in acidic fluid from the stomach inside the lungs," Rosha explained.
The fluid was inducing attacks of breathlessness and wheezing mimicking asthma and was the real cause of Shobha's problems.
Since the hole was located just at the point where the neck enters the chest, the surgery entailed immense risk.
"The food pipe was rather friable where it adhered to the windpipe. The most critical factor was that it could have damaged the delicate nerve to the vocal chords," said Rosha, who referred the surgery to two of his colleagues, Dr KK Pande and Dr HP Garg.
Finally, Shobha underwent surgery on May 27.
"It was certainly the first case of its kind in my 35-year career. I think most physicians who treated the girl overlooked the excessive destruction of the lungs, which resulted in the hole going unnoticed," said Rosha.
Shobha was discharged on June 19.
The happiness in her voice speaks for itself. "I am absolutely fine now and can eat normally. I have got a new life," said Shobha, who recently entered Class X.