Bangalore, September 15, 2020: Monsoon season is usually a high-risk period for seasonal snake bites. Every year, close to 81,000 and 138,000 people die from snake bites globally and of these, nearly half are in India (As per the estimates released by WHO). In one such incident, recently, a five-year-old boy, Nischit, who had slipped into a coma and complete paralysis due to a deadly snake bite and was fighting between life and death, was given a new lease of life through the efforts of doctors at Aster CMI Hospital and with the funds raised by a crowd-funding platform.
Nischit, who hails from a rural village in Adichunchanagiri, a place near Hassan in Karnataka, was bitten by a common Krait snake on his toe when he had accidentally stepped on it while opening the door of his house late one evening. Having identified the snake and knowing its potent venom, his family rushed him to a nearby hospital. The child already had significant exposure to the poison and was slipping into a coma. The local doctors informed the family that they may not be able to ensure the child’s survival. Devastated by this news, the family decided to shift the child to Aster CMI Hospital with respiratory support through a two-hour ambulance journey. On presentation at the Pediatric Emergency room at Aster, the child was completely paralysed with no respiratory efforts and unstable blood pressure. He was admitted to the Children’s ICU on life support.
Nischit was administered anti-snake venom and medicines to reverse the paralysis. Krait is one of the most deadly neuroparalytic snakes whose venom damages the nerve endings and the neuromuscular junction resulting in prolonged paralysis and locked-in syndrome. He was on long term ventilatory support and underwent tracheostomy – an artificial tube surgically pinned to his windpipe in order to allow proper breathing. The child slowly regained consciousness after seven days and started showing a flicker of movement in the distal muscle groups of hands and feet. He eventually overcame his paralysis but the recovery of breathing muscles took another two weeks.
He required three weeks of further treatment to recover completely, but Nischit’s father – Manjunath, who is a daily wage labourer and earns no more than Rs. 6,000-7,000 per month through his farming and the revenue generated by his small tuck-shop in his village, needed a helping hand to provide treatment for his son. Despite the poor economic condition of the family, they somehow managed to pay Rs Two Lakhs to treat his child. The family still had a pending balance of Rs Four Lakhs to pay, apart from the new expenses that were to follow. This is when Aster CMI Hospital, in collaboration with a crowd-funding platform, came forward to raise the additional funds for Nistchit’s treatment, thus playing a vital role in saving his life. After staying for close to 20 days in PICU and with further medication, the child started responding to the treatment, and by the third week, was taken off from the ventilator and was able to stand and walk.
Explaining about the treatment of the child and the complexity of the case, Dr Chetan Ginigeri, Consultant, Paediatrics and Paediatrics Intensive Care Unit, Aster CMI Hospital, said: “As he is a young child, the venom transfer and fast heartbeat causes the rapid spread of venom. Children bitten by Kraits manifest with breathlessness and respiratory paralysis very fast. By the time the child was presented to us – he was very sick, was in a coma with complete paralysis. He required complete respiratory and other organ support along with nutritional rehabilitation to allow a very slow yet complete recovery. Multiple teams including Pediatric ICU, respiratory therapists, physiotherapy and nutritionists played a key role in this recovery. COVID pandemic situation made the fundraising unpredictable. But to the child’s resilience and luck, he did not have any major complications and the crowdfunding campaign was well supported. It was very difficult for us to ensure his survival but we are glad that with our conscious effort we were able to save his life.”
Thanking the doctors for saving the life of their son, Manjunath, Nischit’s father said: He is our only child, and is our everything. Every morning he wakes up with me at 7 am and run errands with us at our small tuck-shop. He is full of energy and aims to become a doctor one day. I am thankful to Aster CMI doctors who helped us mobilise the funds through crowdfunding and gave a new lease of life to my son. Without their help and support, our child would not have lived to see another day.”