Intestinal transplant surgery, which could have saved the life of Delhi’s bus gang rape victim, was done for the first time in India over a month ago at Medanta — The Medicity, when a team of 30 doctors successfully gave Himanshu Singh, 30, a healthy small intestine from a cadaver donor on November 24.
Since 60% of intestinal transplants fail because of high infection and jettison of the transplanted organ, the hospital waited to announce the results till the patient had recovered. All earlier attempts at transplanting intestines have failed in India.
“This is the first time an intestinal transplant has been accomplished. This has given a new hope not only to India, but also, to this part of the world,” said Dr Naresh Trehan, chairman managing director of Medanta.
Trehan clarified that the rape victim had been medically unfit for a transplant and the priority had been to stabilise her condition. “Doctors at Safdarjung treated her the best they could. She had lost her intestine and everyone was praying that one day she will be ready for an intestinal transplant. Transplant is a long journey,” he said.
Trouble began for Singh, a software engineer at a Gurgaon-based firm and Ghaziabad resident, in December 2009 when he developed severe abdominal cramps. Tests showed a major vein of Singh’s intestine was blocked, restricting blood supply and making almost all of his small intestine nonfunctional.
“Out of the 600cm long intestine, only 28cm was left. Rest all had to be removed,” said Dr AS Soin, chairperson of Medanta institute of liver transplantation and regenerative medicine.
Within three years, his weight fell from 74 kg to 37 kg. Singh was told he might have to be permanently on intravenous nutrition. “In three years he was admitted to hospitals 11 times. I had lost all hopes because he suffered from infection twice,” said his father JP Singh.
Hope came on November 24 in the form of a cadaver donor. The surgery cost Rs 30 lakh.