For the past two weeks, a mother is sending her breast milk packed in bottles all the way from Leh to a hospital in Delhi where her child is under treatment. Born on June 16 at a hospital in Leh, the 35-day-old child’s windpipe and food canal were connected. The disorder, which is common, needed surgery within 48 hours of birth. Currently, he is being treated at the Max Super Speciality Hospital at Shalimar Bagh in Delhi. The father of the child, Jikmet Wangdus, 31, goes to the Delhi airport every day to collect the box of breastmilk so that their child could be saved and isn’t deprived of his mother’s milk. He is a manager at an educational institution in Mysore.

Mother’s Milk for Baby from 1000 Kilometres away

Soon after the birth of the child, 30-year-old mother, Dorjey Palmo, who works in a Revenue Department in Leh, noticed that he wasn’t able to suckle when she tried to feed him. The family instantly contacted a doctor in Leh who further consulted with the paediatrics in Delhi. The child was diagnosed with tracheoesophageal fistula with oesophageal atresia.

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“The child could not swallow and was always drooling saliva,” said Dr Harshwardhan, Principal Consultant, Paediatric at Max Superspeciality hospital to ANI. “His food pipe was not built properly. The upper portion of the food pipe is connected to the windpipe,” he further added.

Immediately, the maternal uncle, Jigmat Gyalpo, and the father of the child rushed him to the Max Super Speciality hospital. The then four-day-old child was admitted in the hospital and his surgery to separate the two canals began on June 19.

After being in NICU for three days, the child began recuperating. However, the doctors felt the need to feed him with breastmilk because the powder milk that they were using was insufficient. But, Palmo couldn’t accompany the child to Delhi as she had just undergone a C-Section delivery and there wasn’t any accommodation in Delhi either. The coronavirus scare was also a reason why she had to stay back. The father who heard doctors discussing breastmilk began trying to arrange them.

“The doctors advised us to try and give him his mother’s milk. This was a big challenge but I am lucky to have some friends working in Ladakh airport who assisted us in transporting the milk,” said Wangdus to TOI

He reached out to people in Leh who were travelling to Delhi and requested them to deliver 60ml bottles of breastmilk which Palmo filled every day. Once the bottles landed, the father or the maternal uncle of the child collected them from the airport. The milk was stored in seven bottles and packed in a container made of thermocol and rexine. Once the baby has been fed with the breast milk, the bottles go back to Leh for Palmo to refill and send them back.

Later on, understanding the need of feeding the infant, the airlines also stepped in to help the family by transporting the baby’s food for free of cost.

Thanking the hospital and the airlines, Wangdus said, “In a joint effort from all the doctors, the nurses and the people who used to come from Leh and Vistara, we could save our child.” In fact, in the initial five to six days, the hospital also absolved the family of all the charges, realizing that it caused a huge financial burden on the family.

“It is not often that we see a father like him,” said Dr Harshwardhan.

The baby is in better health now. He is no more being fed through tubes in the nose like before and is able to feed normally.  The 35-year-old is expected to fly back to his mother by Friday who is eagerly waiting to embrace her child, Wangdus told HT.

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