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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

‘Move, liver inside!’ Hospital uses Mumbai local train to transport organ

Officials at Parel hospital said they took a train from Thane to avoid road traffic; unnecessary risk, say experts

mumbai Updated: Feb 16, 2019 07:35 IST
Sadaguru  Pandit
Sadaguru Pandit
Hindustan Times
The transplant team from a Parel hospital with the organ on a local Train from Thane to Dadar on Friday.
The transplant team from a Parel hospital with the organ on a local Train from Thane to Dadar on Friday.

Commuters on the 3.08pm Karjat-CST local train on Friday made space for an unusual piece of luggage — a red box carrying a liver for a patient in Parel.

In possibly the first such case, Parel’s Global Hospital chose to use Mumbai’s lifeline instead of its congested roads to transport the liver of a 53-year-old brain dead patient from Thane’s Jupiter Hospital.

The transplant team from the Parel hospital said they decided to use the train as it is the fastest, most reliable route, but officials from the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee called the decision an unnecessary risk, considering the crowd on trains and railway platforms. Experts said road travel would not have taken time had the hospitals arranged for a green corridor to transport the liver.

The organ donation became possible after a social worker in Ulhasnagar died at Jupiter Hospital, after being injured in a motorbike accident. “The patient suffered heavy brain injury, which resulted in internal bleeding and haemorrhage,” doctors from Jupiter Hospital said. The hospital’s transplant coordinators suggested organ donation to the patient’s family. “They readily agreed, and after initial tests, we found the kidneys and liver were fit for donation,” said Anirudhha Kulkarni, the transplant coordinator.

An eligible recipient was identified at Global Hospital, after which a team from Parel reached Thane to retrieve the organ.

“The retrieval was planned at 11am, a time when there is a lot of heavy vehicle movement on the eastern express highway,” said a representative from Global Hospital. “Our team then decided to use the local train network, as its the fastest, most reliable route. We sought all permissions from the Central Railway, Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Mumbai police to ensure a safe passage,” the representative said.

The team finally left the Thane hospital only at 2.57pm, and boarded the 3.08pm Karjat-CST train. The men carrying the box made space to enter the first-class compartment by shouting “liver inside”. By the time the train reached Dadar, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) at the station put in place a squad to help the transplant team navigate the platform and reach their ambulance. “At 3.20pm, the station master at Dadar informed us that a train carrying an organ had crossed Mulund. We formed a team of 12 personnel, including four Maharashtra Security Force (MSF) officers, eight RPF personnel and two senior officials, to supervise operations. As it was happening for the first time, that too at Dadar station that is almost always crowded, we wanted to ensure safe passage to the team out of the station and to the ambulance,” said Satish Menon, in-charge of the RPF at Dadar station.

The team arrived at Dadar station at 3.42pm, and an ambulance then transported the liver to Global Hospital.

Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee officials, however, said there was no need for the unnecessary risk of train travel. “A liver can be preserved for 12 hours after it is retrieved from the body,” said a senior official, not wishing to be named. “Besides, this is not the first time an organ is being transported from Jupiter Hospital to another facility in Mumbai. Transporting an organ by trains attracts unnecessary attention of fellow travellers and might negate the very purpose of avoiding delay. We don’t approve of the method,” the official said.

Officials at Jupiter Hospital agreed, and pointed out how it any way took the team nearly an hour to reach their destination. “They used different modes of transport involving multiple risks. It would’ve been much better had they travelled the 30.8-km through a green corridor. It wouldn’t have taken more than an hour,” said one hospital official.

In fact, later in the day, the kidneys retrieved from the same patient were transported from Jupiter Hospital through a green corridor to Jaslok Hospital and LTMG Sion Hospital.

Dr Vasanthi Ramesh, director, National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO), said there is nothing in the Transplantation of Human Organs Act about the means of transportation, only that it must be the shortest and safest route. “The law doesn’t necessarily define the preferred mode of transport. So, it would be difficult to comment if the trains are a better transportation channel than roads. But having said that, in Delhi, we’ve never used the metro network for organ transplantation,” Dr Vasanthi said.

First Published: Feb 16, 2019 00:39 IST

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