This week, two cadaver hearts flown from Aurangabad to Chennai saved the lives of a 16-year-old boy – whose father is in the Army – and an eight-year-old girl. This is perhaps the longest distance that a cadaver heart has been transported in India. Previously, they have been transported between relatively closer cities such as Mumbai and Surat. With cadaver donations gaining momentum in smaller cities, doctors say that inter-state transportation of organs will soon become more common.
On Monday, the heart of a 28-year-old man who met with an accident was donated at Doot Hospital in Aurangabad. The heart was transported to Chennai in a defence aircraft as there were no chartered flights available. The latest donation, on Friday, was facilitated by doctors at Government Medical College in Aurangabad, where relatives of a 27-year-old man consented to donate his organs and corneas. “He met with an accident while riding his motorcycle. He was being treated at a hospital in Shirdi, from where he was brought to Aurangabad,” said Dr Jeevan Rajput, a neurosurgeon.
This is also the first time that a public hospital in Aurangabad has facilitated a cadaver donation. The donor, Ganesh Ghodke, was a resident of a village near Aurangabad. “He met with an accident, which resulted in an irreversible brain damage. We performed a battery of investigations, which confirmed our diagnosis,” said Dr Rajput.
On Friday, Ghodke’s organs were retrieved at the medical college in Aurangabad. His heart was transported via a green corridor to the Aurangabad airport in just 12 minutes. On a normal day, it takes 30 to 45 minutes to travel the same distance. “We created a green corridor for rapid transportation of the heart to the airport,” said Dr Suresh Harbade, associate professor of surgery at Aurangabad Medical College. The cost of transporting the heart from Aurangabad to Chennai was approximately Rs 17 lakh.
A cadaver heart must be transplanted into the patient within four hours of its retrieval. Hence, doctors retrieve the heart first and other organs such as the liver and kidneys later. Ghodke’s liver was flown to Pune while his kidneys were transplanted into two patients at hospitals in Aurangabad.
“The girl’s lung pressure was very high and hence we preferred an adult heart for transplantation. An adult heart can withstand more pressure than a child’s and the chance of failure is lower,” said Dr K G Suresh Rao, Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai.