Mumbai: 40-year-old dies waiting for cadaver heart transplant

  • Priyanka Vora, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: May 13, 2015 22:59 IST

A 40-year-old woman succumbed to heart failure at Fortis Hospital in Mulund last week. She was the second patient in Mumbai in two months to have died waiting for a heart transplant.

Bhavi Shah, a mother of nine-year-old twins, diagnosed of dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart’s ability to pump blood is decreased, around eight years ago. “There were many potential donors in Mumbai and Pune but none consented for a cadaver donation,” said her husband, Dipesh, a businessman. He had appealed for through radio channels encouraging cadaver donations.

Dipesh had even released an appeal in a community newspaper, asking readers for information on brain-dead patients whose organs could be donated.

Last month, a six -year-old boy from Dharavi died while waiting for a heart transplant at civic-run Sion Hospital’s paediatric Intensive Care Unit. Hammad Syed was registered for a heart transplant a month before his death.

A heart transplant was attempted in Mumbai at civic-run KEM Hospital in 1968 by Dr PK Sen and is team. After 47 years, doctors at Fortis Hospital attempted a heart transplant wherein they retrieved a cadaver heart from a 66-year-old woman, which was to be transplanted into Bhavi but doctors did not go ahead with the operation owing to some “technical reasons”, leaving Shah waiting for another cadaver donation.

There was an instance when there was a potential cadaver donor in Mumbai with the same blood group but the family was not willing for donation. “Like in the south (India), cadaver donations need to improve in the city. We got the patient (Bhavi) registered in Chennai as the frequency of donations is higher there but even that did not help,” said Dr S Narayani, facility director, Fortis Hospital.

Experts said with more hospital registering for performing heart transplants, there will be a rise in donations also. On Wednesday, Jaslok Hospital in Peddar Road received permission to perform heart and lung transplants. “We expect to start operating in the next four months. We want the team to be trained abroad before performing the surgeries here,” said Dr Tarang Gianchandani, CEO of the hospital.

Registered in Chennai
The Shahs looked for a cadaver heart for Bhavi even in Chennai. “Bhavi was registered in Chennai and we were ready to take her there for the transplant. However she was not on the top of the waiting list and could not get a transplant,” said her husband, Dipesh.

Tamil Nadu has performed 125 cadaver heart transplants since 2008, while Mumbai has performed none. “I was not even aware that heart can be transplanted. She was managing well on medicines but in April her condition deteriorated and we admitted her to hospital,” said Dipesh.

What is cadaver transplant?
Cadaver transplants refer to the act of retrieving organs from brain stem dead patients and transplanting them into patients battling end-stage organ failures. Individuals, who develop irreversible brain damage as a result of stroke or accident-related trauma, are declared brain dead after confirmatory tests are conducted by a specialised team.

What is brain death?
* When the brain stem is irreversibly damaged, a patient is declared brain-dead

* The brain stem is an important part of a central nervous system without which the patient can neither gain consciousness nor breathe

* Once a person is brain-dead, the heart can continue to function with the help of a ventilator and other life-support devices for 36-72 hours. This means blood supply to the organs can be maintained for a few hours

* It is during this period that the organs can be retrieved after obtaining consent from close relatives of the patient

* Most brain deaths take place in the intensive care units. In fact, an estimated 2-4% of deaths in ICUs are of brain-dead patients

Cadaver donors over the years
2012: 27
2013: 24
2014: 41
2015: 19

Hospitals registered to perform heart transplants
* Fortis Hospital, Mulund
* Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road
* Asian Heart Hospital, BKC

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