Providing a ray of hope for patients suffering from end-stage diabetes, the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, performed the region’s first pancreas transplant on Wednesday.
The operation’s success will only be confirmed once the patient Anju, who is in her 30s and hails from Himachal Pradesh, is discharged from the hospital in about two weeks.
The pancreas, cost
The pancreas is an organ, located behind the lower part of the stomach. It produces insulin, one of the main blood hormones that help regulate blood glucose levels. Shortage of insulin, due to any reason, leads to diabetes with fatigue, frequent urination, weight problems and numbness in hands and feet.
A living as well as a brain-dead individual could be used to source the organ. The surgery, the first-of-its-kind in north of Delhi, was conducted by a team of surgeons from the department of renal transplant. The team was led by Dr Mukut Minz and Dr Ashish Sharma.
The number of such surgeries is low. At the PGI, it costs around Rs 2 lakh, while at other hospitals it costs more than 10 times this amount.
Know the donor
PGI officials said the organ was donated by Ashok Kumar (45), a native of Barnala, Punjab. He was admitted to the PGI on Monday in a critical condition in the emergency neurosurgery ward. In spite of the best efforts of a team of experts, the patient could not be saved and was declared brain dead, doctors said.
The patient’s younger sister and the family members gave their consent to donate the organs. The family volunteered to donate liver, pancreas, kidneys and corneas of the deceased.
“Five patients were saved because of the family’s generous act,” said a hospital spokesperson.
A doctor associated with the surgery said they were hopeful of success.
“A pancreas transplant can be termed successful only after the organ starts producing insulin after the patient walks out of the hospital,” the doctor, not wishing to be named, said.
If all goes well, the patient should be discharged in two weeks.
At the PGI, there is a huge waiting list for people needing organ transplant. More than 8,000 patients need corneas, 500 needs kidneys, 50 need liver and five need heart transplants.
Every month, 10-15 brain dead patients report to the PGI, but in spite of best efforts, few donate organs. Their organs can benefit up to 50 people.
This Republic Day, PGI director Dr YK Chawla had announced that the institute would be able to do a pancreas transplant operation.
What is a pancreas transplant?
The pancreas is an organ, located behind the lower part of the stomach, which produces insulin, one of the main blood hormones that help in regulating blood glucose levels. A shortage of insulin, due to any reason, leads to diabetes with fatigue, frequent urination, weight problems and numbness in hands and feet. A living as well as a brain-dead individual could be used to source the organ. A pancreas transplant involves implanting a healthy pancreas (one that can produce insulin) into a person who suffers from the failure of this organ due to cancer or diabetes.
Cost of surgery
At the PGI, it has cost around Rs 2 lakh, while at other hospitals it costs more than 10 times this amount.
Who needs the transplant?
People with insulin-dependent diabetes, who can develop severe complications.
People who need regular injections.
People suffering from the most extreme form of pancreatic cancer.
People with severe kidney damage.
OTHER FIRSTS FOR PGI
1973 Kidney transplant
1963 Corneal transplant performed
2011 Liver transplant
2013 Heart transplant