The harvested heart of a 46-year-old brain dead person was airlifted from Thiruvananthapuram on Friday and successfully transplanted to another person in Kochi that is 200km away from the state Capital.
“The transplant is successful. The patient is responding well to our treatment,” said head of the team that performed the operation Dr Jose Chacko Periappuram. It took almost five hours for the doctors to complete the transplant.
The Navy, police, airport, chief minister Oommen Chandy’s office, and hospital employees — all worked in tandem to rush the retrieved heart 210 kilometres away, in just 75 minutes.
On Friday afternoon, an air ambulance (Navy’s Dornier aircraft), carrying a team of doctors, landed at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport. Within 20 minutes, doctors were at the operating table of Sri Chithira Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST).
S Sreekanda Sharma had been admitted to SCTIMST four days ago after suffering a massive stroke — he was declared brain dead on Friday morning.
Relatives informed the hospital of their willingness to donate his vital organs. A private hospital in Kochi soon informed SCTIMST that it desperately needed a heart to save the life of P Mathew, a resident of Chalakudy in Thrissur.
Chandy sought help from the Southern Naval Command. “Luckily, all other parameters also matched. The CM and others offered us all help,” said Dr Jose Chacko Periappuram, after landing.
After a three-hour operation, the heart was retrieved at 6:15pm.
The police quickly emptied roads and the ambulance reached the airport in 11 minutes. Having taken off at 6:30 pm, the air ambulance landed at the Kochi naval base by 7:05 pm, taking another 20 minutes to reach the private hospital.