‘Hat trick for paediatric Heart’ transplants in Mumbai

In last one month, Mumbai has witnessed three paediatric heart transplants. Lack of paediatric donors led to families traveling down south for heart transplants. My Medical Mantra tries to understand what has changed positively for heart transplants

‘Hat trick for Heart’ transplants among kids

It won’t be wrong to say that awareness about heart transplants has risen in the past few years. All thanks to the organ donation drives and trained experts from Mumbai who have come forward to take on the bandwagon.

The month from August 20 to September 20 has been a wonderful one for paediatric heart transplants in Mumbai. According to the Zonal Transplant Coordination Center (ZTCC), out of the twenty-nine heart transplants that have taken place in Mumbai, only three have been among children.

In one of the beautiful coincidences, three paediatric transplants have taken place in the Fortis Hospital in Mulund, which has been pioneering to boost organ donation as well as transplants in Mumbai. “Paediatric heart transplants started since 2015. Since then, so far this year seems to be the highest with three paediatric heart transplants,” said Urmila Mahajan, ZTCC coordinator, Mumbai.

“Until two years ago, if you had to undergo heart transplant or so, you had to travel down to Chennai. But things have, fortunately changed for better in the past year or so. We have successfully transplanted three hearts for children in this month.  We are very hopeful that this will be a great boost. Moreover, families are also now coming ahead to donate their loved one’s organs,” said Dr Swati Garekar, a paediatric cardiologist at Fortis Hospital, Mulund.

Having said that, one of the things that needs attention is the public support that each of these are receiving. “The fact that each of these transplants is being highly spoken about and even funds are being collected for them shows the public awareness and support,” added Dr Garekar.

Dr Mukesh Sankhlecha, paediatrician at Bombay Hospital said doctors and transplant coordinators have to motivate brain dead child’s parents, “Each hospital’s paediatric team has to identify brain dead child. The demand is higher than the supply. Only through more awareness, we can boost the paediatric organ donation numbers.”

Unlike in adult end stage heart disease patients, in paediatric cases, the donor heart should match the size of the recipient’s heart.

In the entire world, only 12% of heart transplants that take place are among children. This is so because paediatric heart transplants are peculiar and challenging in nature. “In the entire world, only 12% of heart transplants that take place are among children. This is so because paediatric heart transplants are peculiar and challenging in nature. This could also be because dilated cardiomyopathy is not very common in children,” said Dr Garekar.

Furthermore, some doctors say that it is important to increase the specialised training as well as awareness for paediatric heart transplants. “We need to understand that now, training for paediatric cardiologists is gaining momentum, which is why three transplants could be possible in a month But also, it is better to undergo a heart transplant in childhood than as adults because children generally have less diseases and so outcomes will be better. We need to work towards raising awareness about organ donation,” said Dr Kshitij Sheth, interventional paediatric cardiologist at Fortis hospital, PD Hinduja hospital and many other Mumbai based hospitals.

Awareness regarding organ donations, in general is rising. “I can surely say that the awareness activities have risen surely. People are coming forward to enquire about organ donations,” said Dr Kamakshi Bhate, Regional Organ and Tissue Transplantation Organisations (ROTTO) coordinator for NGO.