"The problem of child labor is huge in India. It's really widespread. Often you can't see it because it's hidden — whether it's in people's homes or small little areas of big cities, where children are crammed into little rooms," Shireen Vakil Miller, the head of advocacy and policy for Save the Children in India, told ABC News. "Officially, it's about 13 million children under 14 who are working in hazardous occupations. And unofficially, it's anywhere between 60 to 80 million."
But Devendra was spared that fate, and Babita spent the afternoon recovering from a 3-hour surgery.
"This is one of the most standard heart operations. There's no big deal to it," Dr. I.S. Virdi, the chief of cardiac surgery at Max Healthcare, told ABC News after he finished the operation. "It went pretty well and she is recovering."
It was, however, a surgery she would not have needed had she lived in the developed world.
More than 6 out of every 1,000 people living in rural India suffer from rheumatic heart disease, according to studies conducted in the last decade. "Girls and women in particular seem to be severely affected, possibly as a result of being housebound and having to live in overcrowded conditions," reported the journal "Heart" in 2001. "Overpopulation, overcrowding, poverty, and poor access to medical care are undoubtedly the main reasons for the high prevalence of RHD in India."
It occurs only in .5 people for every 1,000 in the West, according the studies.
"Rheumatic heart disease has been virtually eradicated from developed societies," Virdi says. "It is a disease of the poor people, and this one lady fortuitously got picked up. But there are millions like this lady out in the community who could be benefited" with more awareness.
Virdi says he performs half a dozen similar surgeries each week and would be willing to treat anyone suffering from rheumatic heart disease if NGOs or charities were willing to pay for the costs of the materials and a minimal charge for labor.
"Millions of people suffer from this in India, and it doesn't have to be," Virdi says. "It occurs in areas where there is hygiene is poor, where there is overcrowding, where there are bad sanitary conditions."
Bebita will remain in the hospital for one week and will have to take a blood thinner and other medications for the rest of her life, costs the family will have to figure out how to absorb.
But for now, after her father was willing to part with his son to save her life, she will never have to worry about the "hole in her heart," as her family called her condition.
"Some dads," Virdi says, "are just obsessed about their daughters."