Bengal doc operates on pregnant HIV positive woman

Bengal doc operates on pregnant HIV positive woman

Dr Gautam takes up challenge after other hospitals deny her admission

Amid reports of health facilities in rural areas falling apart for lack of doctors willing to serve in remote areas, an obstetrician at a hospital in West Midnapore, around 200 kms from here, has earned laurels by successfully operating on a HIV positive woman during childbirth after other hospitals declined to admit her.

The doctor in question, Gautam Pratihar said he was initially sceptical about treating the woman but took up the “challenge” after she was denied admission by the Ghatal Sub-divisional Hospital and the Midnapore Medical College and Hospital.

“I didn’t want to take responsibility initially because we don’t have adequate infrastructure to handle such a complicated case,” Pratihar told Deccan Herald.

“More than nine months ago, the 30-year-old woman, then pregnant, came to our hospital with severe weakness and loss of weight. When I came to know her husband was a goldsmith in a Mumbai jewellery shop, I advised the couple to undergo HIV test at the Integrated Council and Training Centre (ICTC) of our laboratory. Both tested HIV positive,” Pratihar said, adding that there is a high prevalence of HIV among people of Ghatal since most of the locals migrate to Mumbai and West Asia for work and indulge in unsafe sex.

However, the doctor was prudent enough to keep the patient’s identity under the wraps. “We preferred to keep it a secret because the woman would have to live with a social stigma. We also told the couple not to disclose it until April 24 when we operated her,” the doctor said.

The woman was kept under constant supervision and was administered anti-retroviral drugs ever since she conceived. “We carried out an early cord clamping soon after the delivery since it would reduce the chances of HIV infection in the baby,” Pratihar added.

Speaking on the condition of the child, the 55-year-old doctor said both mother and child were in good health. “When the baby was only 30 minutes old, anti-retroviral drops were administered to treat HIV virus,” he said.

Pratihar’s efforts did not go unnoticed. While his bosses at the Health department praised him for the noble deed, Minister of State for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya said: “The small rural hospital has set an example. They can serve as a model of what we want the doctors to be. It’s great to hear of a change of attitude among doctors.” 

Commending Pratihar’s initiative, West Midnapore’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Sabitendu Patra said: “The team that operated upon the woman did a commendable job.

The team took all kinds of safety measures because there was every chance of needle pricks during the operation of such long duration.” 

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