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The little boy with atypical HUS

Posted Mar 02 2010 4:58pm
I got a call one evening.

"Is this Kamal?"

"Yes. Who is this?"

"This is Rajesh. My nephew is a three year old boy and has been diagnosed with HUS."

At that instant, a flood of emotions went through me. HUS. Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. Where the body's defense mechanism against foreign bodies goes bonkers and starts attacking its own blood cells, breaking them down, the fragments of the blood then going and getting stuck in the pores of the kidney causing renal failure.

Three year old boy. Surely, this must be the typical form of the disease. The one preceded by diarrhea, the reversible form, the one with a good prognosis, the one where people get back to normal in a few days never to know the disease again.

"Did the boy have diarrhea before this episode?"

"No diarrhea. No other symptoms."

"Oh no", I thought to myself. This was the atypical form. The exact same thing that I had. The one with the bad prognosis. The one in which many of its victims proceeded to chronic renal failure. A third of the victims died. I was overwhelmed. I could see the last twelve years of my life playing out before me. This was the first person I came across who had the same disease in my city.

I gathered as much information about the boy as I could. I went over to the hospital to meet with him and his uncle who had called me. The family and the doctors were perplexed. What had caused this?

Little Karthik, now with a PD tube in his stomach to help clean the toxins his kidneys were supposed to, was quite clueless about the fuss around him. All he knew was that something was wrong. Wrong, it was. Horribly wrong. What could a boy of three know about HUS? About dialysis? About life itself?

The family is now taking Karthik to Vellore on the advice of the doctors here. That, for sure, is a good idea. They say they have the best treatment there. I hope the team at Vellore is able to give Karthik his life back. The little boy of three deserves that and no less.
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