For months, there was a packed bag by the door of the Kapoors' home in Marlboro, N.J. Inside were pajamas, action figures, Arthur books and a blue Nintendo Game Boy, so the Kapoors would be ready to leave minutes after they got “the call.”
Sankrit Kapoor was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension when he was 17 months old. After years of drug therapy, he'd reached the point where he was sick enough to need a lung transplant, but not so sick that he couldn’t go through the stressful surgery and recovery.
At age 5, Sankrit went on the transplant waiting list and the Kapoors were walking that fine line for nearly four months when their nurse at the Pediatric Lung Transplant Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia called to say the time had come to grab that bag and head to the Hospital.
Sankrit’s lung transplant surgery
When the Kapoors arrived at CHOP, everything and everyone was ready. Sankrit was hooked up to the monitors, and while he waited to be taken into the operating room for his lung transplant surgery, staff prepared him for what was to come.
“They prepare you so well that on many levels you know what to expect,” says Poornima Kapoor, Sankrit’s mom. “They prepared Sankrit ahead of time so he wasn’t so scared when he woke up.”
The child life specialist showed him a doll, pointed to where the incision would be, and told him about the tubes and machines that would be attached to him when he woke up — to avoid any surprises. Sankrit took it all in, and his mother assured him he would be better after the transplant.
“‘You’re my brave little boy,’ I told him,” Poornima says. “It’s very hard to see fear in the eyes of your 5-year-old.”
Sankrit was taken in for surgery and — after hours of a nerve-wracking wait — the Kapoors were told the lung transplant was a success and all was well.
New lungs for a new life
It wasn’t long before Sankrit's family saw the impact of the lung transplant in their son.
Before the transplant, Sankrit was so weak; he couldn’t run with the other kids. And as he got weaker before his lung transplant surgery, he couldn’t even chew his food and didn’t have the energy to get up from the couch.
That all changed after his lung transplant.
Sankrit, now 12, is doing well.
“We hit a few speed bumps along the way, but we always have the CHOP team to go to and they help him get better,” his mother says. While the lung transplant creates some limitations, when Sankrit is with the other kids in his middle school, you’d never be able to pick him out as the child who had a lung transplant.
Sankrit plays the saxophone and French horn. He loves playing video games and wrestling with his younger brother, and recently enrolled in track. He enjoys reading, a hobby inspired by his older sister.
Sankrit comes to CHOP every three months for checkups with Samuel B. Goldfarb, MD.
“Everything Sankrit is today is because of the wonderful care he received at CHOP,” Poornima says. “If a family is ever in the situation in which they need medical treatment for their child, CHOP is the place to be. The care is excellent, but the emotional support is wonderful, too. They talk to you, give you a hug and give you the sense of security you need to get by.
"When I look back, there is so much I’m thankful for," she adds. "Everything his transplant team has done for us is beyond words. They have given Sankrit a new life where he can do anything another child his age can.
"Hope truly does live here.”
Originally posted: February 2012
Updated: April 2013