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PGIMER becomes first govt hospital in country to perform lung transplant

A team of over 20 surgeons and paramedics spent over 12 hours in the operation theatre.

punjab Updated: Jul 12, 2017 23:17 IST
Tanbir Dhaliwal
Tanbir Dhaliwal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
lung transplant,PGIMER,PGI Chandigarh
A team of doctors who performed the organ transplant, along with PGIMER director Dr Jagat Ram (sitting second from left), in Chandigarh on Tuesday. (HT Photo)

The Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, performed its first lung transplant on Tuesday. With it, the institute becomes the first in the northern region and the first government hospital in the country to perform such transplant.

A team of over 20 surgeons and paramedics spent over 12 hours in the operation theatre wherein they retrieved six organs and saved four lives. Apart from this, two were given vision.

Lung transplant most challenging

“We wanted to do lung transplant and had been waiting for a suitable donor,” said Dr Sandeep Rana, one of the surgeons who conducted the organ transplant. “Lung transplant is not very complicated in comparison to other organs, but the results are not very encouraging. In the northern region, no hospital, not even All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, has performed the lung transplant. In south, some private hospitals are conducting surgeries, but no one knows their success rate,” said Prof Ashutosh from the PGIMER pulmonary medicine department.

On Monday morning, 22-year-old Bhola Singh from Gholia Kalan village in Moga was rushed to the PGIMER with a severe head injury. He was already brain dead. The transplant co-ordination team sprung into action and it took no time to convince his family.

The surgeons called organ recipients. Bhola was also shifted for organs retrieval. The transplant took over 12 hours. “Around 1.30am, we started the procedure and it ended at 2:30pm, the next day. It was very challenging but we are happy that it was a success,” said Dr Sandeep Rana.

“While, the lungs were being removed from the donor in one OT, we started surgery on the other table to remove the recipient’s lungs, which is a tedious task,” said Dr Rana. Meanwhile, other organs were retrieved and transplanted by other teams in different OTs.

Dr Rana said: “The recipient, a 34-year-old Sangrur woman, is fine. All the parameters are within normal limits, but still we will have to observe her for many days to say that she is out of danger.”

Know the saviour

Bhola Singh, 22, of Gholia Kalan village in Moga used to work hard day and night to make the ends meet. He had taken the financial responsibility of his family. His uncle, Joginder Singh, takes pride in saying that he was not into drugs and was an obedient child.

Bhola, who used to work at a car service station in Charik village in Moga, met with an accident on Saturday night. He was driving a two-wheeler, without helmet, when he was hit with a speeding vehicle. He suffered severe head injury and was rushed to PGIMER on Sunday evening and the next morning, doctors alerted the transplant coordinator about brain death.

“We have seen people suffering for want of organs. Hence we decided to donate Bhola’s organs,” said Joginder Singh, paternal uncle of the donor. “What can be a better deed than saving someone else’s life?” he said.

The donor is survived by his father Soma Singh, mother Kulwinder Kaur and three siblings.

Know the recipient

The recipient is a 34-year-old woman from Sangrur. “She was suffering from breathlessness and cough from the past two-three years, but her condition deteriorated in January. In February, we brought her to the PGIMER,” her husband said.

She is suffering from interstitial lung disease and her lungs were 95% damaged. Around two weeks ago, doctors informed them that the only solution left was organ transplant. “We got a call on Monday and we reached at 8pm. I have not met my wife since then. I hope, she is fine,” he said.


A lung transplant is surgery to remove a person’s diseased lung and replace it with a healthy lung from a deceased donor. Such transplants are used for people who are likely to die from lung disease within 1 to 2 years. Their conditions are so severe that other treatments, such as medicines or breathing devices, no longer work.

Who needs lung transplant?

Lung transplant may be an option for some patients when the lungs become so damaged by disease that they can no longer get oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of the blood. This is called end-stage lung disease, says Dr Rana. Transplant is not a permanent cure. It is just that the day to day activity becomes easier, they are no longer dependent on oxygen cylinder, but they have to undergo life-long medications, which have adverse side-effects, says Dr Ashutosh, who was part of the ten that conducted the transplant.

What is a success rate of lung transplant?

There is no way to define a success rate. These patients have higher risk of infections and organ rejection. They are always at risk. The global data says 50% might live till 5 years, says Dr Ashutosh.

Then why should one go for lung transplant?

It improves a quality of life to a variable degree. In some patients, it might not be that good; in others it can improve the quality of life, he says.

How much it costs?

The cost depends upon the complication. In non-complicated cases, the initial cost is around ₹6-10 lakh at the PGIMER. Then one has to spend around ₹10,000 per month on medications, which are life-long. In private sector, it would cost around ₹45 lakh.

They say

“Despite cadaver donor organ transplants picking up pace, lung transplants are still very uncommon. This is partly because the surgery is complex and technically demanding and also because there are not too many usable lungs. So, it’s heartening that the PGIMER not only surpassed the 27 cadaver organ donations of last year, but also has to its credit of becoming the first in public sector hospitals to perform a lung transplant,” Dr Jagat Ram, PGIMER director, said.

First Published: Jul 12, 2017 11:00 IST