- Baby Rishita was born three months premature, weighed only 650 grams
- 'Admitted her as the family was poor and she was a girl', says the doctor
- With specialists and dedicated nurse, baby Rishita now weighs 2.5 kg
Nalgonda, Telangana: Born nearly three months premature, baby Rishita weighed just 650 grams — “just as much as my (cell) phone,” was how her doctor described it. Five months on, she is ready to go home — a healthy 2.5 kg baby.
“Even I did not expect her to survive,” admits Dr Damera Yadaiah, playing with Rishita, a baby he is immensely proud of. He has reason to be.
For all the horror stories of neglect, lack of infrastructure and apathy at government hospitals, doctors and nurses at Nalgonda, a backward district of Telangana, have shown it is possible to work miracles with low birth-weight babies. Rishita, their latest case, is a record for the country.
When she was brought in, the hospital was unwilling to admit her, seeing little hope that she would survive.
“I am not supposed to admit newborns weighing below 1.2 kg. But her parents were very poor and she was a girl,” said Dr Yadaiah. He decided to take her in, fearing her parents would not take her to any other private tertiary care unit.
“I was shocked that the family virtually abandoned her the first week. I had to call them and speak to them,” he said.
But a few days of professional and dedicated care worked magic.
Despite having only four nurses for 24 to 26 babies at a time, the doctor decided to dedicate one of them to take care of Rishita. “In just a few days, when she wrapped her hand around my little finger, I knew this one was a survivor.”
But a lot of work had gone into making the baby normal and healthy — including kangaroo mother care and specialists pitching in with help. “She is developmentally normal, her hearing and vision are normal. As you saw, she was smiling at you,” he said.
The family says doctors and nurses have worked a miracle. Grandmother Mallamma is overwhelmed. “They took care of her like real mothers — even more than we ever could imagine. Otherwise how can baby who weighs half-a-kg even survive? And then they taught us about kangaroo care. I didn’t know if you tie the baby on the chest, it can help so much.”
Mamtha, the child’s mother, says she had given up hope. But the doctors had counselled her, asking her to be positive and taking good care to the baby.
“The doctor said great people like Einstein, Picasso and Ambedkar were all pre-term babies and my daughter can also become like that. So I got confidence,” she said.