Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon of National Heart Institute (IJN), Dr. Sivakumar Sivalingam (left) with Head of Department Pediatric and Congenital Heart Centre IJN, Dr. Hasri Samion and Consultant Paediatrict Cardiologist of National Heart Institute (IJN), Dr. Khairul Faizah Mohd Khalid (right) during the press conference of surgical corecction of Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA) in National Heart Institute (IJN), Kuala Lumpur. (NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD)

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Heart Institute (IJN) has created yet another milestone in a heart related procedure when it successfully performed the first arterial switch surgery on one of the two conjoined-twins who were successfully separated in March.

IJN’s Head of Department, Paediatric and Congenital Heart Centre, Dr Hasri Samion said Aleesha Hana and her healthier conjoined twin sister Aleeya Hana were born on Feb 19 this year in Sabah with Aleesha diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA) two weeks later.

TGA is a condition where the aorta is connected to the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery is connected to the left ventricle causing oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to mix and hence the lungs and the body do not receive sufficient oxygen.

Dr Hasri noted it was a challenging surgery as it involved multiple stages of operation and a big team from various locations to ensure Aleesha’s survival, beginning with their separation conducted at the Likas Hospital in Sabah.

“One of the challenges was that we could not perform the surgery immediately as Aleesha was still joined with her healthy sister. So to proceed with the surgery, the pediatric team of Hospital Likas along with the pediatric surgeons from Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) performed the separation surgery that took about two weeks before they were successfully separated," he said at a press conference at IJN, here, today.

He also said this caused a delay which put the baby for the heart surgery at risk.

“She was transferred to IJN when she was three months old for the surgical correction of her heart defect, when in fact it could have been done when she was one month old," he said pointing to the conjoined birth that delayed the procedure.

Dr. Hasri said that this milestone wouldn’t be possible without the advanced communication technology which alerted the team on the baby’s condition when she was born.

Meanwhile, Dr Siva Kumar Sivalingam the consultant cardiothoracic surgeon who conducted the surgery explained that Aleesha underwent multiple emergency procedures during her separation and it took even more time for the healing process.

“The baby was also found to have a weak lung and was infected before the surgery. After stabilising her, she underwent the four-hour corrective operation on May 16,” he said, adding that her chest was kept open for 5 days before successfully closing the chest.

She was very swollen and hence underwent peritoneal dialysis. She was also gradually weaned off the ventilator and is now on nasal oxygen support.

Aleesha will be transferred back to Sabah by tomorrow and her mother has nothing but praises for IJN and its doctors who did a great job saving her daughter. — BERNAMA