Clockwork precision, concentrated and speedy coordination helped Brain dead woman’s heart give 22-yr-old a new lease of life

Clockwork precision, concentrated and speedy coordination between airport authorities, two hospitals, government officials and traffic department, and two green corridors in Pune and Mumbai ensure the feat.

A coordinated action unfolding at a moment’s notice helped a heart reach a Mumbai hospital from Pune in record time Monday to save a 22-year-old’s life. Inspired from Chennai that is known to specialise in heart transplants, Maharashtra just went a step ahead and conducted a heart transplant following concentrated and speedy coordination between airport authorities, two hospitals, government officials and traffic constables to create two green corridors — one in Pune and one in Mumbai.

The Pune police and traffic authorities took just seven minutes Monday afternoon to create the green corridor — a route without red lights — for a 42-year-old brain dead woman’s heart to be rushed from Jehangir hospital’s operation theatre to the Pune airport.

From there, a chopper flew a medical team guarding the heart to Mumbai’s Fortis hospital where it was successfully harvested in the young patient in a little more than two and a half hours. This is the first successful heart transplant in Maharashtra.

Dr Sanjeev Jadhav, chief heart surgeon at Jehangir hospital told that the entire operation was smoothly coordinated.

The woman who had suffered a brain haemorrhage was admitted to Jehangir hospital on July 29. She was declared brain dead at 12.30 am on August 3.

“The woman had already pledged her organs and since she was very young, the relatives said we could transplant the heart. Our team soon got in touch with the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC)…” said Dr Manish Bobade, CEO at Jehangir hospital.

At ZTCC, Dr Arati Gokhale, the central coordinator, spoke to her counterparts in Mumbai and was informed that the youngster whose heart function was barely 5-10 per cent urgently needed a transplant.

The medical team from Fortis hospital came to Pune early Monday morning, got the blood samples matched, conducted other tests and fixed the time for the heart retrieval for 1 pm, Gokhale said.

Dr Jadhav initiated the procedure along with Dr Shriniwas Ambike, nephrologist, Dr Deepak Kirpekar, Dr Nitin Gadgil and others. Within 10 minutes, the heart was retrieved and preserved by using custodial cardioplegia and taken to the Pune airport.

On reaching Santacruz airport in Mumbai at 3.10 pm, another green corridor was created till the Fortis hospital in Mulund. A 20-km journey was completed in just 18 minutes as the heart was taken directly to the OT, where a group of four doctors headed by Dr Anvay Mulay, head of cardiac surgery at Fortis hospital, had already started the operation.

A human heart can be preserved for four hours.

“We were informed at 11 am Monday about the transportation required for heart and had made arrangements straightaway. The ambulance left the airport from Gate 8 that opens on the Kalina side. It had to move northwards to Mulund and climbed on to Santa Cruz-Chembur Link Road to get on to the Eastern Expressway. A pilot vehicle was leading the ambulance through the right most lane of the entire stretch,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Milind Bharambe.

Bharambe added that there were six divisional traffic units who kept the traffic in check.

Dr S Narayani, faculty director at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, said the young patient was suffering from terminal cardiac failure and had been waiting for a donor heart for several months. “We have over five patients awaiting a heart transplant at our hospital. This boy was lucky. A few days ago, we lost a paediatric to heart failure as there was no heart for transplant,” said Dr Narayani.

This is the first time the concept of a green corridor has been used in the state for inter-city organ transplant. By far, this is the first successful heart transplant surgery in Mumbai after three failed attempts at KEM, Jupiter and Fortis hospitals.

Experts said heart transplant surgeries had higher risk factors as opposed to kidney and liver transplants owing to more complexities in connecting the heart arteries and vessels. “We were very anxious how the transplant would proceed,” Narayani said.

Mulay said the blood group cross-matching and weight and height tests of the boy were conducted before the heart was flown to make sure the recipient’s body did not reject the organ. “The boy was diagnosed with intracranial bleeding in his brain which led to paralysis. We found about six months ago that the cause was rooted in the blockages he had in his heart,” Mulay said after the surgery.

The youth, an animation artist, underwent a near-perfect surgery with doctors claiming that there were “no glitches”. He will now be kept under observation for a month at the hospital.

“Heart rejection by recipient body is common because heart does not have its own immunity and one heart failure can possibly lead to death. That is the reason why heart transplants are still rare in India,” Mulay told