Extraordinary footage has emerged of a man born with his heart outside his rib cage, beating under just a thin layer of skin.
The video is of Arpit Gohil, whose parents were told he would almost certainly die when he was born with the extremely rare condition.
Now 18, the boy in the video is being hailed by doctors as a ‘medical miracle’, who say a slight fall or bump could kill him instantly.
Known as Pentalogy of Cantrell, the rare condition affects foetus development and causes babies to be born with vital organs (such as the heart or intestines) on the outside of their bodies.
Most children with the condition would be treated with kid gloves, wrapped in cotton wool and refrain from unnecessary risks.
But Arpit, who was born with the most serious form of the disorder known as ‘ectopia cordis’ of which there are just 165 known cases, is no ordinary man.
Growing up, he appeared like any other boy, climbing trees and driving a tractor on his father’s farm 40km from Ahmedabad, in Gujarat state, India.
â€˜I donâ€™t have any problems, and have got used to living with the condition now,â€™ he told Indian news site Daily Bhaskar.
As his heart pumps beneath the skin in his chest, he added: â€˜I can do everything like a normal person and donâ€™t have any trouble with my jobs on the farm, whether it be tilling the land, driving a tractor or riding a bike.â€™
However because part of his diaphragm doesn’t work, the rest of the muscles are working overtime.
This means that any other infection he might pick up, such as pneumonia, would be much worse for him than for a normal patient.
Dr Sanjeeth Peter, director of the Nadiad-based DDMM Heart Institute, warned that Arpit could die at any second.
â€˜He has learned to cope with the defect but he is very vulnerable, and we donâ€™t know how much longer he can continue living as he does at the moment,â€™ he told MailOnline.
â€˜But if he slips and falls, or he is bumped, it could do serious damage.
‘He holds himself carefully to protect his heart but, and particularly because he works on a farm, it is not 100 per cent safe.’
As soon as their son was born at home in Chhapra, India, in 1997, Arpit’s s parents took him to hospital in Nadiad after becoming aware of his serious complaint.
Doctors thought he had been born with two hearts, but a sonograph revealed he had one heart outside his rib cage. They told his parents Arpit had almost no change of survival.
But his father, Vikrambhai, revealed: â€˜Since he was little, my son has never experienced any complications.
‘At times, I felt he was actually healthier than the normal boys of his age. So I never took him to a doctor. I never thought about having him operated on.â€™
Now Arpit is considering having an operation to move his heart into its correct position after reading of a similar case of a girl in China.
On examining Arpit, Dr Peter discovered five defects including an abdominal disorder above his belly button and a defect inside his heart.
â€˜He is OK for the time being,â€™ said Dr Peter. â€˜But he could develop respiratory problems or circulatory problems at any time, because the problem is putting so much strain on his body.
â€˜I believe the best thing for him to do would be to go ahead with the operation. After that he would be able to lead a normal life.â€™(source Daily Mail)
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