The 16-year-old son of a farmer from Latur, reeling under drought and unprecedented crop failure, received a heart transplant after six months of medical treatment in Mumbai on Tuesday morning.
The boy underwent a successful surgery even as a week ago, a 20-year-old man from the city had died waiting for a heart donor.
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The 16-year-old suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscles are affected. His symptoms surfaced in September last year while he was preparing for his Class X board exams. When the school exams did not go well and his condition worsened, his parents took him to a local doctor,who then referred them to Mumbai’s JJ hospital.
The teenager, along with his mother, has been staying in Mumbai for over five months now with his father making frequent trips from Latur. When treatment at JJ did not improve his condition, the family sought different options and finally got registered with the Zonal Transplant Coordination Center (ZTCC) for heart transplant.
“He (father) had discussed how the panchayat is trying to help farmers facing drought,” said Dr S Narayani, director at Fortis hospital, Mulund, where the surgery was conducted on Tuesday. The boy’s father owns a farmland in Latur, which has witnessed three consecutive droughts.
According to a ZTCC official, the boy had been on waitlist for the past three months. On Monday afternoon, the family of a 22-year-old man agreed to donate his organs, including heart, cornea, liver, kidney, after he succumbed to a head injury in a road accident in Surat. A team of doctors from Mumbai flew to Gujarat to extract the heart and rushed back to Mumbai via a 269-km green corridor in one hour and19 minutes.
With coordinated efforts between airport authorities in Mumbai and Gujarat, traffic officials and doctors, the heart was flown in a chartered flight that started from Surat at 12.57 am on Tuesday and reached Mumbai airport at 1.35 am. By 1.57 am, the heart had been safely transported to the operation theatre.
According to head of the cardiac transplant team, Dr Anvay Mulay, the next 48 to 72 hours will be critical during which the boy will be kept under observation in the intensive care unit. The boy’s entire family is in Mumbai praying for his quick recovery.
“He had been admitted two weeks ago. On Monday afternoon, when all medical parameters matched, the parents were informed an organ was available,” Narayani said.
With finances poor, the family has been supported by donors who funded the whole surgery. A heart transplant costs between Rs 20 to 25 lakh, coupled with exorbitant charges of transporting it via air from another state.
ZTCC has 14 patients awaiting a heart donation in Mumbai with one registered from Asian Heart Institute and 13 from Fortis hospital. The 20-year-old man from the city who died last week had been under treatment as he waited for a donor for 21 days. “We could not hold him longer even with medication,” said Narayani.
According to Mulay, the major issue is lack of donors. “The maximum donors are from Surat and Indore where awareness is less but willingness to donate organs is more. If we get donors from Mumbai, the time wasted in transporting organs inter-state will be reduced.” he said.