Resurrection Monday, May 17 2010 

A three-year-old girl fell into an icy fishpond in a small Austrian town in the Alps. She was lost beneath the surface for thirty minutes before her parents found her on the pond bottom and pulled her up. Following instructions from an emergency physician on the phone, they began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A rescue team arrived eight minutes later. The girl had a body temperature of sixty-six degrees, and no pulse. Her pupils were dilated and did not react to light, indicating that her brain was no longer working.

But the emergency technicians continued CPR anyway. A helicopter took her to a nearby hospital, where she was wheeled directly to an operating room. A surgical team put her on a heart-lung bypass machine. Between the transport time and the time it took to plug the inflow and outflow lines into the femoral vessels of her right leg, she had been lifeless for an hour and a half. By the two-hour mark, however, her body temperature had risen almost ten degrees, and her heart began to beat. It was her first organ to come back.

After six hours, her core temperature reached 98.6 degrees. The team tried to put her on a breathing machine, but the pond water had damaged her lungs too severely for oxygen to reach her blood. So they switched her to an artificial-lung system known as ECMO—extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The surgeons opened her chest down the middle with a power saw and sewed lines to and from the ECMO unit into her aorta and her beating heart. The team moved the girl into intensive care, with her chest still open and covered with plastic foil. A day later, her lungs had recovered sufficiently for the team to switch her from ECMO to a mechanical ventilator and close her chest. Over the next two days, all her organs recovered except her brain. A CT scan showed global brain swelling, which is a sign of diffuse damage, but no actual dead zones. So the team drilled a hole into the girl’s skull, threaded in a probe to monitor her cerebral pressure, and kept that pressure tightly controlled by constantly adjusting her fluids and medications. For more than a week, she lay comatose. Then, slowly, she came back to life.

First, her pupils started to react to light. Next, she began to breathe on her own. And, one day, she simply awoke. Two weeks after her accident, she went home. Her right leg and left arm were partially paralyzed. Her speech was thick and slurry. But by age five, after extensive outpatient therapy, she had recovered her faculties completely. She was like any little girl again.

(Taken from Dr. Atul Gawande ‘s article The Checklist in The New Yorker)

School-hunting Tuesday, Feb 12 2008 

My son Pranav’s third birthday is on 2 May 2008. We wish to send him to school form this June when the new academic year starts. So we’ve already visited a school.

Although compulsory education begins only at the age of six in India, it’s impossible to get admission at age six into class one in a good school, if a child hasn’t done kindergarten: Lower and upper KG, one year each. And, if the child hasn’t gone to nursery, it’s going to be very hard to find a seat in kindergarten!

So, almost everyone ends up sending their children to school very early: one year nursery and two years kindergarten before joining class one at the age of six. Children start grappling with grade one lessons in kindergarten itself. If they’re not already smart at them, ‘NO’ seat for them in class one. (There’s separate interview for parents and they are expected to be smarter than their kids!)

The school we visited follows alternative education (Waldorf education of Rudolf Steiner) up to class seven and prepares children for CBSE (central syllabus) exam from class eight.

We didn’t like the teacher who dealt with us there because her way with my son was not in accordance with the system of education they claim to follow. She tried to be polite and decent with us but was obviously rude with our child. Philosophy on paper but not in practice.

But you can’t like everyone and everything in a school and then seek admission for your kid.

We’ll be visiting some other schools before choosing one.

Schooling has turned parenting into a nightmare. This BBC story and the comments tell it all.