Diganta Chakraborty is like any other 18-year old. An ISC student from Delhi Public School, New Town, he is focussed on his career and wants to do well in his JEE for tailored future ahead. He just has one problem. He has Pneumothoraces.
Pneumothoraces or leakage of air resulting in collapse of the lung, that could result in sudden attacks of breathlessness with high mortality rates. Some youngsters are prone to this because of congenital presence of some air pockets (bullae) within the lung. He was diagnosed with this condition a year back, when one night after dinner he suddenly complained of a chest pain. He was taken to the hospital, an x-ray was done, and pneumothorax was confirmed. He was treated at the hospital for his left lung and sent back home fine.
A year later just before his ISC board examinations, he was brought to Fortis Hospital, with acute chest pain, and this time it was his right lung. “This time it was the other lung which had leaked with a big collection of air; which was the reason for his breathlessness and his chest pain. We were stuck because he had his board exams at the same time. So our patient was very brave, he had the tube fit in, we drained the air to an extent. So he did his exams with the tube being in position on suction. An invigilator sat with him while the patient bore the pain with the tube being in position and the air draining and doing his exams all the while” says Dr Raja Dhar, Consultant Respiratory Physician, Fortis Hospital.
Explaining the reason behind air leakage from the lungs, Dr Raja Dhar says that there are small holes in the lung or air sacs which rupture resulting in the air coming to the surface. A lot of people have this congenital tendency to have air sacs within the lung and these people have or are prone to what is described as Pneumothoraces or leakage of air from the lungs. “This is potentially a life threatening condition as in if the lung collapses then the air collecting around the lung pushes the heart away then the person may collapse and die,” Dr Dhar adds.
Commenting on the medical condition of Diganta, Dr Raja Dhar says, “we are hopeful that he has done both of his exams, we are going to put some medicine again on the other side to get the lining of the lung so that it does not collapse.” Pneumothoraces can be treated by getting the lung to expand again with the tube being in position to drain the air and then putting the medication thru the tube so that the expanded lung sticks to the lining (pleura). This process is called pleurodesis. The other medicines that we give him are aimed to reduce airway spasm and open his breathing tube up, bronchodialators, antibiotics to treat any infection and steroids to reduce the redness or inflammation within the breathing tube.
However, Diganta refuses to give up. He has just given his Mathematics and Biology examinations from his hospital bed and is hopeful of good results. A resident of Dumdum, Motijheel, he is hopeful of fetching at least 95 per cent in his Maths paper. He also admits that he was highly apprehensive if he could actually appear for his board examinations or would have to lose an entire year due to his illness. He says, “Dr Raja Dhar gave me complete assurance on how they would make all the necessary arrangements so that I could sit for the exams from the hospital. I am also grateful to my principal for being a huge part of my support system and also my invigilator in the hospital while I wrote my papers.”
Diganta is diagnosed with such a painful condition where he has to write his exams with a tube inserted into his body. But he doesn’t lose hope and claims that he isn’t an exception or a braveheart. “Others would have done the same had they been in his condition,” he says even as he studies for 4-5 hours daily in spite of his Dr. Raja Dhar says, “we sent him home on 23rd so that he can do his next board exam today from where he should be doing his exams.”