UAE: Emirati funds rare heart surgery for nanny who looked after him for 30 years

The 50-year-old woman initially thought that the symptoms caused by her heart defect were a Covid-19 infection

By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Wed 19 Jan 2022, 11:59 AM

An Emirati funded the cost of medical recovery with a rare procedure for an Indonesian nanny who looked after him and many Emirati children for over 30 years.

A 50-year-old married Indonesian, Nanik Harjo worked as personal staff with an Abu Dhabi-based Emirati family for over three decades. She was brought to the urgent care section of NMC Specialty Hospital in Abu Dhabi on December 30 after suffering from breathlessness for over a month.

“I was worried on account of something serious as I continued testing Covid negative – the usual suspect these days,” said Nanik after her rare successful procedure.


After hearing heart murmurs, the physician at the hospital transferred her to the cardiology section. An echocardiography was carried out, which confirmed she had heart failure. The doctors ruled out asthma and other lung and chest problems after closer examination.

She was attended by Dr Sanjay Rajdev, Consultant Interventional Cardiology at NMC Specialty Hospital, Abu Dhabi.

“Breathlessness was attributed to her heart failure, which was due to a heart-defect, shunting lot of blood from the left side to right side. She underwent a CT scan and was found to be having signs and symptoms of heart failure,” said Dr Rajdev.

Dr Madhava Kakani, HOD and Consultant Cardiac Anesthesia, NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain confirmed the diagnosis via the echocardiogram.

“The patient had a condition known as the ruptured sinus of Valsalva RSOV - there is a hole near the aortic valve resulting in an abnormal connection between the two chambers. The usual treatment is to close the hole using open-heart surgery.”

Dr Rajdev explained, “It is medical urgency causing severe acute chest pain with dyspnea – shortness of breath, or, in extreme cases, cardiac arrest. The condition carries with it a high rate of mortality if left untreated.”

Nanik’s treatment options included open-heart surgery performed by cardiothoracic surgeons or, in selected cases, by a cardiologist. However, since the patient was extremely reluctant to undergo an open-heart surgical procedure, she was subjected to further testing with the help of trans-oesophagal echocardiography for a detailed assessment regarding the feasibility of non-surgical closure.

“I do not know much about medical science, yet I was sure I did not want the open-heart surgery,” she said.

Dr Rajdev confirmed the diagnosis and proceeded with timely closure of the defect via a special device - a small 12-millimetre nitinol plug positioned across the defect.

“In her case, she was found to be having an 8.5-millimeter defect with the leaking of blood from the aorta into the right ventricular outflow directly below the pulmonary valve.”

After a successful two-hour procedure on January 6, Nanik was discharged the next day with immediate improvement in her symptoms and wellbeing.

Michael Davis, CEO of NMC Healthcare, said that the procedure is rare, and he recently learned about it.

“Nanik’s story and her bond with the Emirati family are so heart-warming. I am happy to see our doctors, nurses and technicians continuing in their pursuit of saving precious lives.”

This procedure using device closure is rare in the MENA region, and only a handful of hospitals are set to carry it.

Nanik returned to her duties within a week with no lifelong medications.

“When I came out of the procedure room, the medical team had smiles on their face while my local Emirati sponsor had tears of joy. UAE is my second home, gifting me a new life and a kind-hearted family forever.” Nanik concluded with tears of joy.

The Emirati sponsor pointed out the importance of Nanik in his life, considering her to be as important as his mother. He said he had tried to bring her children over from Indonesia to look after her but failed to do so due to pandemic restrictions.

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