How I Cheated Death!

Hvovi Minocherhomji


I was diagnosed with congenital cardiomyopathy when I was 16 years old. As a child, I rarely fell ill even with common childhood ailments, and here I was, faced with something that seemed to have no known cure. To say that I was terrified would be putting it mildly.

My parents and I were clutching on to the hope that the slow rate of progression of my myopathy might mean that I would remain symptom free until I reached my forties at least. The fact that I was leading a relatively normal life, even months after the doctors had offered such a grim prognosis, lulled me and my family further into a sense of security.

This was shattered on the evening of December 18, 2012, when I suffered a stroke due to the impaired functioning of my heart. Unable to speak, and with my right side paralysed, the gravity of my illness was brought home to us with sickening force. Although I recovered almost miraculously from the stroke, with only a minimal deficit in the functioning of the fingers of my right hand and right toes, the horror of that episode left me mentally shattered. It took me many months to regain some semblance of confidence and put the fears of another stroke occurring behind me.

After the stroke, my condition steadily declined. I suffered from breathlessness, fatigue and severe headaches. My heart functioned at only 25% of its normal capacity. It all came to a head on the 16th Oct, 2013, when I collapsed and had to be rushed to Holy Family Hospital, Mumbai. I had no pulse, no blood pressure and no heartbeat!

The cardiac team under Dr Brian Pinto battled heroically to revive me even when all hope seemed lost, and after 45 minutes, they managed to get my heart beating again. Miraculously, even though my brain had been deprived of oxygen for so long, I showed no deficit after this episode. As per Dr Brian Pinto, my heart was deteriorating rapidly, and my only chance was a heart transplant. He strongly recommended the Fortis Malar Hospital in Chennai, where they had an excellent transplant team headed by Dr. Balakrishnan, whom he knew personally.

A preliminary meeting with Dr. Balakrishnan filled us with hope. Here was a doctor who inspired trust and confidence. Dr. Suresh Rao, with his kind eyes and gentle demeanor did much to reassure us and allay our fears. In an alien city, under the most trying of circumstances, the hospital became our home, and the entire cardiac team our family. Not for an instance did we feel alone or hopeless.

On the morning of 16th June 2014, God worked His miracle. A heart that was a match for me had become available. In the midst of our joy, we sent up a prayer for the family of the donor for their incredible bravery and generosity in the midst of their grief.

The operation lasted for 6 hours, and at precisely 10.30 pm, the new heart started beating in my chest.

Our hearts are filled with gratitude to the wonderful doctors who held our hand throughout this difficult journey, and who showed us time and again that they were not just men of medicine doing their jobs, but kind, empathetic and selfless human beings above all else. I am living a healthy and active life. I trained myself in Transplant Coordination from MOHAN Foundation for working towards organ donation advocacy. Subsequently, I also co-founded a company that counsels and offers solutions to students aspiring to study abroad.

Armaity (Hvovi’s mother) says, “Hvovi loves her work and has become a workaholic. She puts in upto 10 hours of work on many days. But she loves what she is doing and enjoys her weekends with friends and family. We are just grateful for all this”.

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