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22 May 2018

5 states, 3 hospitals, 3 teams of docs give Dilchand a new dil

TNN | May 22, 2018, Kolkata: A race against time involving multiple agencies from five states ended on Monday with Jharkhand native Dilchand Singh getting a new heart in Kolkata, thanks to a Bengaluru family’s decision to donate the organ that belonged to their son, a 21-year-old accident victim. A team of doctors from Chennai and the nodal transplant organization in Delhi completed the five-state operation, lending their support to help conduct Kolkata’s — and eastern India’s — first heart transplant.
The multi-state effort started with a tragedy, which occurred in Bengaluru on Saturday afternoon. The 21-year-old road accident victim was admitted to Sparsh Superspeciality Hospital there but his condition deteriorated and doctors declared him brain-dead the same day.
Three journeys took place over the next two days: a cardiac patient took a taxi out of Deoghar on Sunday afternoon, travelling 330 km; a team of doctors took a 1,400-km flight out of Chennai on Monday morning; and a team of three technicians, carrying a very special cargo, took a 1,600-km flight out of Bengaluru, again on Monday. All the journeys ended in Kolkata, with the 39-year-old Deoghar tutor — with a heart in his name — getting a new heart and putting Kolkata and eastern India on the country’s heart-transplant map.
The operation, which notched up several firsts, left something for doctors, too, to chew on: it pushed back the time gap between the extraction of the organ and its insertion in a recipient’s body by one-and-a-half hours. “The standard protocol recommends a gap of four hours. We took five-and-a-half hours but were successful,” cardio-transplant surgeon K R Balakrishnan, who led the surgery team, said. “We think it can be stretched further to six, even seven, hours,” the Fortis (Malar) cardiac sciences director added. The procedure itself lasted for over two hours and, till late on Monday, Singh was doing well, doctors said.
The hunt for recipients started soon after the Bengaluru man’s family gave its consent. None was found in Bengaluru and so doctors at Fortis, Malar, decided to fly the heart down to Kolkata where Fortis had received the licence for the procedure this January and was waiting for a transplant opportunity since then.
“Singh suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, which meant that his weak heart was able to pump just about 17% of the required blood volume,” Fortis Kolkata cardiothoracic surgeon K M Mandana said. He was registered for a heart transplant in 2016 and was undergoing treatment at the Fortis unit, off E M Bypass, since then.
Singh reached Kolkata around 7pm on Sunday and the next important consignment — the heart from Bengaluru — reached the city around 11am on Monday. It was here that Kolkata Police took over, providing a green corridor during morning rush-hour traffic to ensure the organ reached the hospital off E M Bypass, a distance of 18.7km, in less than 20 minutes.
The operation started around 11.30am and was over by 12.45am. The team of doctors, led by Balakrishnan and chief cardiac anaesthetist Suresh Rao, announced the operation was successful around three hours later.
“The first heart transplant in the city has gone off well. More than the procedure, it was the logistics that posed a huge challenge. Never before have donor, recipient, doctors and the healthcare facility been from different states. Everyone stepped in on Sunday, a holiday, to make this mother of all transplants possible,” Balakrishnan said.
Rao hoped the landmark operation would set the ball rolling and encourage more transplants in the east. “All this was done to give the organ donation movement in the region a boost. I hope the state governments, too, step forward with financial and infrastructure support so that more transplants can happen here,” he said.
State organ donation nodal officer Aditi Kishore Sarkar admitted it was a lucky break for Bengal and vowed to seize the opportunity. “This is a huge moment for us. There were attempts to do a heart transplant in recent months but they failed either because a recipient could not be found in time or the donor organ could not be sustained,” Sarkar said.

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