This young couple’s joy at the arrival of their firstborn quickly turned to despair. They realized something was drastically wrong.
For Shaista Zahida, 22, and her husband Mr. Baloch, there was a nightmare unfolding. The newborn, whom they named Laraib, appeared normal except for one heartbreaking thing, her heart was actually on the outside of her body. However, it was beating normally.
This condition is known as ectopia cordis, and is an extremely rare genetic defect, affecting only one in 126,000 births.
Most of these babies barely survive a few days, but little Laraib is defying the odds and seems determined to survive.
Doctors at the Children’s Hospital in Lahore are keeping her alive, but say she needs corrective surgery to put her heart back inside her body. This delicate operation is not available in Pakistan, and her only hope is to have the surgery in Europe.
Laraib’s parents are appealing to the Pakistani government for help to send their daughter abroad for the much-needed surgery.
“Doctors told me that treatment for such a condition will be available in any European country. I’m appealing to the Pakistan and Punjab governments to help me,” said Mr. Baloch. “She looks normal but we are worried what will happen to our baby as doctors have told us that treatment for such a condition is not available in Pakistan”.
Dr. Ibrahim Ansari, who is attending to Laraib, says this is the first time he has seen a baby with this condition.
“But there is some hope. The baby may survive if pediatric surgeons can operate on her to put her organ back in her chest,” said Dr. Ansari.