Organ recipients came together under one roof on Monday to raise awareness on the importance of organ donation. For Komal Pawar, who was Maharashtra’s first recipient to undergo a combined heart and lung transplant in Chennai, arranging funds to the tune of Rs 35 lakh and then finding a donor led to a long wait for surgery.
“Like Tamil Nadu, even Maharashtra government should provide aid for transplants. Maharashtra provides only Rs 3 lakh, while the Tamil Nadu government gives 80-90 percent of transplant cost to the patient,” Pawar (28) said.
Mumbai currently has 26 patients on the waiting list for a heart and 13 awaiting lung donation. While getting just a heart or lung for transplant now requires less wait time, with Maharashtra making progress in a number of donors coming forward for organ donation, doctors face difficulty when it comes to transplantation of both lung and heart in a patient suffering from pulmonary hypertension.
“Primary pulmonary hypertension is only now getting clinically diagnosed well. It leads to high pressure in the lungs, and affects the right side of the heart connected with lung. Inhalers or oral medicines do not cure it. At least 50 percent of patients require both, heart and lung, transplant,” said Dr R Ravi Kumar, attached with heart and lung transplant department in Global hospital. He added that there are 25 patients on wait-list for heart and lung transplant across Global hospitals in the country.
In Mumbai, so far this year three patients have undergone heart and lung transplants. Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre officials said no separate waiting list is maintained for patients requiring both heart and lung. “But if a donor family agrees to donate heart and not lung, a transplant cannot be conducted for a pulmonary hypertensive patient. They need the transplant of both organs together,” said Dr Vivek Talaulikar, chief executive officer at Global hospital, that has started heart and lung transplant facility.
Satara-born Pawar was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2015. By 2017, her weight reduced from 56 to 25 kg. She underwent a transplant in May 2017 in Chennai when no hospital in Maharashtra could treat her. The organ donation rate was higher than Maharashtra in 2017. “I was on 24-hour oxygen support for two months. If a donor’s family hadn’t come forward, I wouldn’t have survived on oral tablets,” she said.
Like her, Mumbai-based Neha Salunkhe was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2016. She got a donor in August 2018. “The entire year 2017 was difficult. I had heart problems, breathing problems,” she said.
Pulmonologist Dr Apar Jindal said the wait for organs is long drawn for pediatric cases, especially those who require a heart transplant. “Currently only four states, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, are donating organs for transplants. We need more states to sensitise people,” he said.