Until June 2017 Suhana Shaikh would remain wheelchair bound for weeks at a time, her breathing supported by oxygen, due to a heart ailment. Then she underwent a heart transplant.
At the annual conference of Society of Heart Failure and Transplant on Saturday, with a fresh lease of life, the 15-year-old Bhandup resident performed a dance. She hopes to raise awareness on organ donation and raise money to help heart transplant patients undergo surgeries.
“I decided to pledge my organs seeing how it helped save my daughter. A lot of people have superstitions that discourage them, but these organs go to waste if not used to save lives,” said her father Azad Ali. Ali, a BEST bus driver, earns Rs 19,000 a month. He says the government should provide a scheme to help poor patients who require organ transplants. Suhana’s heart transplant had cost Rs 20 lakh. He spent days requesting local mosques to generate funds and by visiting philanthropic trusts.
With an aim to put the focus on heart failures and transplants, the three-day conference of global cardiologists, starting Friday, saw discussions on difficult cases of heart treatment and medical advances.
On Saturday, nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences vice chancellor Dilip Mhaisker, former Supreme Court Justice Sujata Manohar, actors Shatrughan Sinha, Shefali Shah and Simi Garewal and Anant Goenka, Executive Director, The Indian Express Group, presented awards to several cardiologists.
Doctors discussed the need to modify lifestyles to reduce the risk of heart ailments. “Not just in the US, but in India too hypertension and diabetes are increasing the risk of heart failures. We need to focus on prevention first,” said cardiologist Jagmeet Singh from Boston-based Massachusetts General hospital.
Cardiac surgeon Dr P P Mohanan said with increasing heart failures, “we need to do 58,000 heart transplants every year and we need to raise awareness, coordinate with government to increase donation. So many hearts are going to waste”.
The national heart registry, he added, shows several young people are dying due to heart failures.
In Suhana’s case the wait luckily was for four months before a donor’s family agreed to donate his heart. “I want to help others now. I go whenever doctors need me to counsel patients,” she said.
The iCare program, run by Holy Family hospital to train local population on cardiopulmonary resuscitation, also received an award for spreading awareness to prevent deaths due to heart attacks.