In a nail biting finish, the heart of a 28-year-old Bangalore techie, who died in a hit-and-run accident in the early hours of Sunday, was transported 330 km away to Chennai, and successfully transplanted in a 34-year-old constable, giving the latter a fresh lease of life.
This is the first time in India that an extracted heart, which can at best survive on its own for four hours, has been carried from one state to another for a transplant.
On Sunday, the duty surgeon at Bangalore’s Manipal Hospital telephoned Dr K.M. Cherian’s Frontier Lifeline Hospital in Chennai, informing that the heart in question was available. The surgeon had contacted hospitals across his own city, but failed to locate a suitable recipient.
The techie’s heart was found to be compatible with that of the police constable, who needed a transplant. “We immediately contacted a private company which operates chartered aircraft,” said Dr Cherian. Soon a 14 seater Dornier aircraft, carrying four doctors and two nurses, took off for Bangalore.
Had the Dornier landed at Bangalore new, swanky airport, the doctors would have lost two hours in just getting to Manipal Hospital. But they used the old HAL airport inside the city and reached in barely 45 minutes.
The techie's harvested heart was placed in cold, saline solution, in a sealed icebox, to preserve it for as long as possible. The team then travelled back to Chennai. “The city police, who had already been contacted, stopped all other
traffic intersecting our route,” said Dr Cherian. “Our team covered 20 kms from the airport in 10 minutes.”
What also helped greatly was the fact that Karnataka is the only state in the country that has a well defined protocol for inter state movement of organs. “There were no bureaucratic delays,” said Dr Cherian. “I have pleading for similar protocols in other states, including Tamil Nadu.”