Exceptional feat: Heart travels 2,000km in record 4 hours from Delhi to Mumbai for transplant

Doctors say this is the first time in India that a donor organ has covered more than 2,000km where the government as well as private entities came forward and ensured that the heart is transplanted in record time of four hours from the time of heart retrieval

Exceptional feat: Heart travels 2,000km in record 4 hours from Delhi to Mumbai for transplant

Delhi-Chennai Hospitals created history in India’s organ transplant chapter after heart of a young brain-dead patient was successfully flown from Delhi to Chennai for a transplant on March 29.

Doctors say this is the first time in India that a donor organ has covered more than 2,000km where the government as well as private entities came forward and ensured that the heart is transplanted in record time of four hours from the time of heart retrieval.

“It took exactly 4 hours 10 minutes from the operation theatre of R&R Army Hospital in Delhi, where the donor heart was retrieved, to reach our hospital’s operation theatre for the transplant. This was possible because of coordination between government agencies and other stakeholders,” said Dr Sandeep Attawar, Director and Chairman of Heart Failure and Transplant, Gleneagles Global Hospitals, Chennai.

Explaining on how the Chennai patient got lucky with the heart donor from Delhi, Attawar said once the Delhi patient was declared brain-dead and the family agreed for organ donation, hospitals in northern part of India were checked for suitable recipient.

“Since there were no recipient there, hospitals in South India were checked and we had two eligible recipients,” said Attawar. The recipient, a middle age man, is recovering well in the ICU post heart transplant,” said the doctor.

He further explained that transporting an organ to a distance this far requires meticulous planning and innumerable clearances from several government and private bodies, which include district collectorates, police departments, fire and rescue departments, revenue departments, PWD department and the aviation department.

“It was a mammoth task which was successfully accomplished and ensured that the organ didn’t go waste. It has encouraged better future for organ transplant in the country,” said Attawar.

Meanwhile, a 62 year-old Surat woman underwent a successful heart transplant in Mumbai after a brain-dead patient’s family in Pune decided to donate his heart on March 29.

It is said around five lakh Indians die waiting for an organ every year. With a huge difference in demand and supply of organs for transplant in the country, the Delhi-Chennai organ transport is seen as a welcome sign.

“There is a notable improvement in organ donation and transplant scenario in India. One reason is increased awareness on organ donation and another is formation of National Organ Transplant and Tissue Organisation (NOTTO) in 2014, the agency responsible for coordination for procurement, allocation, and distribution of organs in the country. We still have a long way to go,” said Dr Shrirang Bicchu, Nephrologist at Bombay Hospital.