In a rare feat in the country’s medical history, the heart of a 20-year-old brain dead patient from Indore was harvested and flown by a regular flight to another city, Mumbai, within two hours where it was successfully transplanted to a teenage boy, doctors and officials said.
The brain dead patient’s liver was harvested too, which was sent to Delhi by air for transplant. While the patient’s skin and eyes were donated at Choithram Hospital and MK International Eye Bank in Indore respectively, the kidneys could not be used due to an infection in them, they said.
It is for the third time in as many months that organ harvesting has been carried out in the city, but the Indore Organ Donation Society described the Sunday’s operation as the biggest so far.
“It was the donation of heart, which is a very vital organ and very difficult to transport. It is for the first time in the country that an action like this has been carried out,” said divisional commissioner Sanjay Dubey, who is also the chairman of the Indore Organ Donation Society.
Dr Sanjay Dixit, one of the members of the donation society and vice dean at MGM Medical College, however, said, “It is for the first time in the country that a regular plane was used for transporting a vital organ like heart. It is also a first in the country that two crucial organs like liver and heart were flown to two different states simultaneously.”
Asked why an air ambulance was not used to transport the organs, Dixit said it was not financially viable for the recipients.
The donor, Sonia Chauhan, was a patient of epilepsy and had suffered a severe brain injury after falling during an epileptic fit on Thursday. She was declared brain dead by doctors of MY Hospital on Saturday.
After going through her medical history, a team of doctors counselled her parents who agreed for organ donation. The patient was transferred to Choithram Hospital where harvesting of organs had been performed in the past as well.
Soon, two teams from Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, and the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, Delhi, came to Indore to collect the organs. “We coordinated with teams in Delhi and Mumbai and zeroed in on these two institutes. While the team from Delhi reached at around one in the night, the team from Mumbai reached by 9 pm on Saturday,” said Dubey.
He said a total of four green corridors were created on Sunday to transport the organs. “We created two corridors in the city. One was to transport the heart from Choithram Hospital to the airport, which happened at around 7:40 am on Sunday. The other was created in Mumbai to receive and transport the organ to Fortis Hospital. Similarly, when the liver was harvested, a corridor was again made to transport it to Delhi through a Jet Airways flight at 8:25 am. In Delhi, the liver was sent to the institute through a green corridor.”
Dubey said doctors worked all night to ensure that the entire efforts become a success.
He said both transplants had been performed successfully. “The heart was transplanted to a 17-year-old boy in Mumbai, while the liver was given to a person from an economically weaker section in Delhi,” he added.
The biggest challenge in the operation, divisional commissioner Sanjay Dubey mentioned, was to convince doctors and institutes that deadlines are met.
“We contacted a number of hospitals in both Mumbai and Delhi but most were not ready. It was a huge task,” according to Dubey.
HARVESTING THE HEART RIGHT
Heart as an organ is very delicate and cannot be kept outside the body in the fluid for more than four hours. It gets deteriorated very easily, medical experts say. The organ donation team had to coordinate extensively with doctors to avoid any wastage of time in the process of transporting and transplanting the organs. The biggest challenge in the operation, divisional commissioner Sanjay Dubey mentioned, was to convince doctors and institutes that deadlines will be met.
As it happened
Dec 31: Sonia Chauhan suffers serious brain injury after falling during an epileptic fit; admitted to MY Hospital
Jan 1: Doctors lose hope as there are no signs of her recovery
Jan 2: Doctors declare her brain dead. Parents agree for organ donation
Organ donation society starts looking for recipients; gets in touch with Fortis Hospital, Mumbai and Liver and Biliary Sciences Institute, Delhi.
Patient is shifted to Choithram Hospital for organ harvesting. Teams from Delhi and Mumbai arrive in night.
Jan 3 (7 am): Heart harvested by Dr Pradeep Salgia; leaves for Indore airport.
7:40 am: Heart flown to Mumbai by an Indigo flight
8:50 am: Heart reaches Mumbai airport; a green corridor from Mumbai airport to Fortis Hospital created
7:40 am: Liver operated and ready to be transported through a green corridor
8:25 am: Flight takes off with liver for New Delhi
9:45 am: Liver reaches New Delhi and is taken to hospital.