Aaradhya has got a new heart, but paediatric heart transplants remain a challenge

Lack of paediatric donors led to families traveling down south for heart transplants until some years ago. Slowly, the scenario is changing. In the last month, Mumbai witnessed three paediatric heart transplants. Still, lot has to be done, in order to raise awareness regarding the same. Here, My Medical Mantra tries to understand what has changed positively with regards to the heart transplants but also analyses the challenges behind it

 

 

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With Aaradhya Mule getting discharged on Wednesday, evening, the question arises is, where are we heading from now on, in terms of paediatric heart transplants? The four year old Mule, waited for about a year-and-a-half in search of a suitable heart.

According to the Zonal Transplant Coordination Center (ZTCC), out of the twenty-nine heart transplants that took place in the city, only three have been among children. In one of the beautiful coincidences, three paediatric transplants have taken place in the last month has been in Fortis Hospital, Mulund, which has been pioneering to boost organ donation as well as transplants in the city.

“Paediatric heart transplants started since 2015. After which, this year seems to be the highest with three paediatric heart transplants, so far,” said Urmila Mahajan, ZTCC coordinator, Mumbai.

Hospital staff gets emotional while a smiling Aaradhya heads home

Sources from the Fortis hospital say there are about two children waiting for a heart, which goes to explain that though the awareness regarding the heart transplant has increased, yet a lot more has to be done.

“There is no question about the increasing awareness on heart donations in the city. A lot of awareness has taken place in the last few years, but a lot more needs to be achieved,” said Dr S Narayani, Zonal Director, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.

Experts say, this could also be because acquiring a donor heart is a challenge.  “We have done around 12 paediatric transplants since we began our program in 2015. The challenges involved in paediatric heart transplants include getting a suitable heart.  Unlike in an adult end stage heart disease patient, in paediatric cases, the donor heart should match the size of the recipient’s heart. We have a complete team of experts in the hospital who help in the best and swift treatments,” added Dr Narayani.

Dr Swati Garekar, senior paediatric cardiologist at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, informed, “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, which is a very positive sign. We hope this trend continues to save more lives.”

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In India, paediatric heart transplants are rare, whereas, the International Society for heart and lung transplant figures says that approximately 500 to 600 paediatric heart transplants take place globally and 12 per cent of those transplants are done upon children.

Dr Gaarekar said, “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.

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