Delhi homemaker gets new heart

May 31st, 2011 - 7:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) After years of shuttling between hospitals, 44-year-old Sunita, a homemaker in Delhi, got a new lease of life when doctors at a city hospital transplanted a “new” heart inside her.

“It is difficult to believe. Thanks to the doctors, I am better now,” Sunita from west Delhi’s Baljeet Nagar, still in the hospital, said in her message through a video-conference Tuesday.

The surgery was carried out around two weeks ago at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in central Delhi involved a team of over 50 doctors coordinating for the transplant.

“Although heart transplant surgeries are conducted at the AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), Sunita’s is the first successful surgery in a non-governmental institution in north India,” said Sujad Shad, director of cardiac transplantation centre at the Dharma Vira Heart Centre at the Ganga Ram Hospital.

The first heart transplant surgery was conducted at AIIMS in 1994.

Sunita, a diabetic, had a heart muscle disease known as cardiomyopathy, severe left ventricular dysfunction that lead to heart failure.

She was given a heart retrieved under difficult circumstances from a donor whose family chose to remain anonymous.

“Heart transplants happen when the patient’s heart has almost stopped functioning at a normal rate. This includes symptoms such as abnormal blood pressure, blockages in blood carrier vessels such as veins and arteries, swelling, abnormal heart beats, and heart attack,” Shad explained.

The patient is kept under constant observation and given expensive immuno-suppressant drugs that help in better compatibility of the donor’s heart and the recipient’s body.

The cost of the surgery has been Rs.12 lakh till now, and is expected to reach Rs.18 lakh after immunosuppressant drugs are given.

“The survival rate is usually 90 percent for the first one year, and chances of improvisation are there,” said Harsha Jauhari, chairman of department of renal transplant surgery at the Ganga Ram Hospital.

“Real progress is yet to be made in terms of donor registry as there are so many patients dying because of road accidents, and there is almost zero legal donation in India,” added Jauhari.

The permission for the transplant was received from the director general of health services (DGHS) in 2008, after which the search for a suitable donor began.

“There is a huge gap between the demand and supply in organ transplantation sector. While approximately 10,000 people in India require heart transplants, hardly one is able to get it,” said Shad.

Most of the donations come from brain dead patients, stroke victims and road accident cases, Shad added.

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