Any parent can relate: to the ends of the earth is just the beginning of how far you will go to help your child.
Perhaps no one knows this better than Sagar, a father from India whose efforts to save his son stretched across the world and eventually led him to Boston Children’s Hospital.
Sagar’s son Priyanshu was diagnosed a few months after he was born in 2014 with double outlet right ventricle (DORV) with hypoplastic (small) ventricle, a rare congenital condition in which the heart’s two major arteries both connect to the right ventricle, causing poorly oxygenated blood to be circulated through the body. The condition can lead to severe lung damage. An initial surgery didn’t prove curative but offered the potential to prolong Priyanshu’s life by a matter of years.
After first resigning himself to appreciating the time left with his son, Sagar decided he needed to do more.
Multiple hospitals in India declined to further treat Priyanshu due to the severity of his heart condition and lung disease (pulmonary hypertension), but Sagar continued to search for the care his son needed to survive.
“I promised my son I would do something, so that’s what I tried to do,” Sagar says.
A new world
Sagar bought a Hindi-to-English dictionary and visited cyber cafes after work to learn how to use a computer, navigate the internet, and send emails. What ensued was an international show of support that spanned more than three years and a worldwide pandemic, and ultimately brought him and his family more than 7,000 miles from their home in Bhopal to Boston Children’s.
Sagar didn’t listen when doctors told him that additional surgeries for Priyanshu were not possible.
“I decided I needed a new beginning. If not in India, then I would get my son treated somewhere else in the world.“
“In that email I found my son’s life”
While researching Priyanshu’s condition, Sagar found videos of Dr. Sitaram Emani, cardiac surgeon and director of the Complex Biventricular Repair Program at the Boston Children’s Benderson Family Heart Center. The videos gave him hope that his son could get the treatment he needed at Boston Children’s so he contacted the team and was elated to get a response stating Dr. Emani had reviewed Priyanshu’s case and found him to be a candidate for complex biventricular repair.
Each year, more than 2,500 families living outside of the United States seek care at Boston Children’s. The Global Services team — a group of medical and administrative professionals — exists to help these families through the process. Their mission is to help coordinate care between families, the medical professionals in their home countries, and providers here at Boston Children’s.
“It was one of the most amazing days of my life,” says Sagar of receiving the message.
After witnessing firsthand the opportunities the online world held for saving his son, Sagar once again turned to the internet to help raise the money needed to cover the cost of traveling to and receiving treatment in Boston.
Within weeks, his #savepriyanshu campaign was viral, garnering the attention of national media, as well as good Samaritans worldwide.
Another new beginning
In March, the family arrived at Boston Children’s thanks to the generosity of those who came together from across the world to #savepriyanshu — including a philanthropist named Caroline and Gaurav, a child-health advocate. Both have dedicated their lives to helping children in need and worked alongside the Global Services team at Boston Children’s to bring Priyanshu to Boston, and both traveled to Boston to be by Priyanshu’s side.
Sagar says he will forever be grateful to those who helped bring Priyanshu to Boston Children’s and to those here who helped save his life, which included a team that developed a new technique for mapping the heart and switching around the arteries of Priyanshu’s heart.
Sagar and his family are also appreciative of the unconditional respect, compassion, and support they found at Boston Children’s.
“We found so much love for Priyanshu,” he says. “Today, my son is in front of you because of this hospital. I don’t have words to express how grateful I am…you have given new life to my son.”
Hear Sagar share his story about his unwavering faith and determination to save his son.
Learn more about the Benderson Family Heart Center at Boston Children’s Hospital or schedule an appointment for a second opinion about your child’s cardiac diagnosis.
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