A team of 30 specialised doctors, 72 hours of uncertainty, four green corridors in two cities and two planes — this is what the successful airlift of the heart and liver of a 40-year-old brain-dead patient took from Chandigarh to Delhi on Monday. It gave a new lease of life to four people in three hospitals — PGIMER in Chandigarh, AIIMS in Delhi and Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon.
Doctors say that this latest cadaver donation of 40-year-old Pradeep, a resident of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, was a challenging one due to limited time to keep the organs in a good condition.
The patient, doctors said, was admitted to PGI last week and the doctors said his condition was extremely critical.
“On Sunday afternoon, the patient was declared brain-dead. There were no matching recipients for heart and liver at PGI, following which the National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO) was informed, which allocated the heart and liver to Medanta and AIIMS respectively,” said a PGI doctor.
The first attempt to airlift the heart to Delhi in a special plane failed on Sunday evening after the Indian Air Force denied a request to a special charter plane to Medanta at the city airport. The airport was shut due to runway repair on Sunday.
“This case was challenging because we had to maintain the condition of the organs. We are satisfied with the outcome as four lives were saved,” Dr Vipin Koushal, nodal officer, Regional Organ & Tissue Transplant Organization (ROTTO), PGI, told Chandigarh Newsline.
“The efforts started on Saturday afternoon. It was a challenging task because three major organs were to be harvested,” said Prof Kajal Jain, from the department of Anaesthesia and ICU who was involved in the case. “The patient was not stable and the big task was to maintain the condition of the organs. At least 30 doctors were involved in the harvesting of the three major organs.”
To speed up the transportation of the organs to the airport, the first green corridor was created with the help of the UT Police early Monday morning. The ambulance reached the airport in a span of 20 minutes, after it left PGI at 7.20 am. The chartered flight departed at 7.55 am for Delhi and with the help of green corridor in Delhi, it reached Gurgaon. A Medanta doctor, however, said that they reached the hospital a little late from the airport due to some problems in the green corridor.
A team from the Medanta hospital had earlier reached PGI at 2.30 am on Monday. “The harvesting of the organs started around 5.15 am only as the Medanta team was waiting for the special flight to arrive at the airport. A heart once harvested has to be transplanted in four hours,” said a doctor.
Another green corridor was created in Chandigarh and this time for the liver transport. The PGI ambulance reached the airport at 10.03 am. The Chandigarh Airport Authorities which were informed in advance about the airlift also put in efforts for the faster passage at the airport.
“We are really grateful to the IndiGo airlines and other airport authorities for making things quicker at the two airports. It took 19 minutes to reach the special vehicle and then to reach AIIMS from the airport with the help of green corridor,” Dr Aarti Vij, faculty incharge of the Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation (ORBO) at AIIMS, told Chandigarh Newsline. “The organ was successfully transplanted.”
Two kidneys harvested from the patient were also successful transplanted in two patients at PGI in the afternoon.
The family members of the patient hoped that their decision would bring smile to the recipients’ families. “My children have lost their father at an age when they needed him the most. Hope my decision for organ donation will bring smile to the recipients. This will be our biggest tribute to him,” said Pradeep’s wife Veena Devi.