Bengaluru: Blassio Yoko Yamu, from a village near Mombasa, was hit by a car while playing on the street, in February 2016. He was immediately rushed to the local hospital where first aid was administered, and he underwent a CT scan. He was treated for a neck fracture through an operation.

However, Blassio had damaged his brain and dislocated his spinal cord, making it difficult for him to breathe. He was paralysed from neck below and was surviving through a ventilator.

“The boy was operated in his country in 2016 to fix the fracture in his neck, but his spinal cord was dislocated, which affected his breathing. He also suffered from seizures,” said Dr Ravi Gopal Verma, chief of neurosciences at the hospital, as reported to The Times of India.

According to the medical reports, the phrenic nerve was intact. It is through this nerve that the brain controls respiration in the body. However, in this case the muscles that surround the spinal cord were damaged which made it difficult for him to breathe.   

In August 2018, Blassio was brought to Bangalore, accompanied by his mother, for treatment that included a deep brain stimulation procedure at Aster CMI Hospital. The expense for the same was borne by the Kenyan government. During the procedure, the diaphragm muscle surrounding the phrenic nerve was activated and a pacemaker was inserted to stimulate it.

Speaking on the procedure Dr Verma said, “Over the next two weeks, support from the pacemaker was escalated. But being used to a ventilator for a long time, Blassio resisted every attempt to make him breathe more. Behavioural issues made it difficult for him to adjust. With the help of a child psychiatry team, counsellors and a determined mother, the boy made slow progress to be weaned off the ventilator.”

Since the procedure in the city the boy has made remarkable progress and is now able to walk, eat and breathe on his own.