Organs from 32-year-old brain-dead welder in Pune save four lives on his birthday, heart sent to Nagpur

The donor's wife, who is six months pregnant and has a six-year-old child as well, consented to donate her husband’s organs and this was done on Friday, which was also his birthday.

In the first successful heart transplant in Nagpur, a 28-year-old man received a heart from a 32-year-old brain-dead welder from Pune on Friday.

The donor, who is from Neera village in Purandar tehsil, Pune district, was admitted to KEM hospital in Pune after he suffered a brain stroke. His wife agreed to donate his organs after he was declared brain dead. “It was a tragic case as his wife is six months pregnant and they have a six-year-old child as well. But she consented to donate her husband’s organs and this was done on Friday, which was also his birthday,” said Aarti Gokhale, central coordinator, Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC), Pune.

Dr Manoj Durairaj, cardiac surgeon and programme director of Sahyadri Hospital’s heart transplant programme, said they received a call from New Era Hospital in Nagpur, where a 28-year-old man who was suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy was admitted.

Dr Anand Sancheti, hospital director, told The Indian Express that the patient was from Madhya Pradesh and a frequent ward of the Intensive Care Unit. “His heart was only 10 per cent functional, so when we heard that a heart was available in Pune, we immediately requested Dr Durairaj and the medical team to retrieve the organ and fly to Nagpur,” said Sancheti.

According to Durairaj, they retrieved the heart at 7.30 am on Friday and then flew to Nagpur. The transplant procedure commenced at 12.30 pm and was completed by 3.30 pm, Durairaj said, adding that the patient was recovering. The 32-year-old donor’s liver was sent for transplant at KEM Hospital while one kidney was sent to Ruby Hall Clinic and the other to Sassoon General Hospital.

Durairaj said, “The crucial thing about this surgery was the long-distance transfer of the heart. The heart had to be in the box for a longer period of time. We also took a commercial flight, so the coordination had to be perfect.”

Dr Ketan Apte, unit head at Sahyadri Hospital, said, “Such long-distance transfer surgeries involving travel of 700 km need perfect time management, an expert team of doctors and availability of all facilities.”

Heart transplants, which are considered a treatment of last resort, have picked up pace over the past few years.

In Mumbai’s first heart transplant after several decades in 2015, an organ from a 42-year-old brain dead woman in Pune was transplanted into a 22-year-old graphic designer. From August 2015 till now, at least 16 donor hearts from brain-dead people in Pune were sent for transplant to Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Nagpur, said Aarti Gokhale, central coordinator, ZTCC, Pune.

Over the same period, at least 98 hearts have been donated and transplanted across Maharashtra.

Transplant experts said a heart transplant centre requires massive infrastructure, surgical expertise and high standards of follow-up care, after which they are registered by the government. Durairaj added that the entire procedure requires a large team with immunologists, cardiologists, medical social workers and a dedicated heart failure OPD with post-operative care personnel to ensure that the transplant is a success.

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