Pune-based transplant surgeon Dr Sanjeev Jadhav is the first transplant surgeon in the country who has participated in heart, lung, kidney and uterus transplants. He is part of the 12-member team headed by Dr Shailesh Puntambekar, who conducted India’s first uterus transplant on a 21-year-old from Solapur on Thursday. Dr Jadhav’s is also the first doctor from western India to have performed a heart transplant in August 2015 and a lung and heart unblock transplant in September 2016. My Medical Mantra spoke exclusively to the man who performed as many as 40 heart transplants in the past 18 months.
My Medical Mantra (MMM): You have performed heart, lung, kidney and now uterus transplant. How would you compare these surgeries?
Dr Sanjeev Jadhav (SJ): Every transplant procedure is a difficult and the challenges are different. You need a lot of expertise to conduct the procedure and hospitals needs to invest a lot in these surgeries. Heart, lung and liver are vital organs and so transplanting these organs needs to be encouraged so that more lives are saved. Uterus, meanwhile, is not a vital organ, and transplanting this organ can be based on a patient’s choice.
MMM: It is been criticised that rules and regulations for the transplants are stringent in the country and globally. Some from the medical fraternity have been demanding that the laws be made more flexible. What is your take on this?
SJ: In order to avoid malpractices it is necessary to have strict rules and regulations. There has to be a monitoring authority to ensure that they are not compromised. I recently did a heart transplant on a patient from Ukraine. While the country has nuclear technology, it does not offer heart transplants. A team of doctors from Pakistan has contacted us to help them in heart transplant surgeries. It is only with the systematic rules and regulations that India can make marked progress in the field of organ transplant.
MMM: There is scope for creating awareness in India about organ donation as there is a huge gap between demand and supply. What is the global scenario?
SJ: Even in developed countries such as the US, only around 2,200 heart transplants are conducted annually. The number is way less than the demand. In India, we do not have any statistics on the demand-supply gap. There is a need to create more awareness about organ donation in India. If you see, even uterus transplant has been conducted only by Sweden, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the US. Not all developed countries have attempted the procedure.
MMM: What about the ethical questions raised by the medical fraternity on the recent uterus transplant?
SJ: Rather than making it an ethical issue, we should look at this as a medical milestone. After the first heart transplant surgery, awareness about organ donation has gone up by many notches, but we still have a long way to go. Every woman has the choice to give birth to her own child, and if medical technology can assist her, why not.