Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 11
Providing a new lease of life to a 35-year-old woman from Sangrur, who was suffering from terminal lung disease, the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research today successfully transplanted lungs on her after a 12-hour-long surgery.
With the successful lung transplant, the PGI created history today as it became the first government-run medical institute to transplant lungs in the country. Till today, only private institutes in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru had been transplanting lungs at a cost ranging from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 35 lakh. The PGI was able to perform it for Rs 7 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
Prof Jagat Ram, a noted eye surgeon and Director of the PGI, while giving credit to his team of 20 doctors and transplant surgeons, said the lungs were donated by a 22-year-old youth from Moga, who lost his life in a road accident. He was declared brain dead, and his family, in a noble gesture, decided to donate his organs to save the lives of others.
Prof Jagat Ram said after the consent of the kin of the deceased, an organ retrieval surgery was performed last midnight.
The kidneys, eyes, lungs (both lobes) and liver were transplanted whereas a heart transplant operation could not be conducted as a suitable recipient was not available.
Dr Rana Sandip Singh, who headed the team that carried out the transplant surgery, said the lung recipient was on the artificial support system with end-stage lung disease.
Giving details about the surgery, Dr Rana said, “Whenever you perform any surgery for the first time, you get stressed, no matter how trained you are. We had never done a lung transplant. A heart lung machine was also put to use.” He said, “Despite cadaver donor organ transplants picking up at a consistent pace in different pockets in the country, lung transplants are still uncommon. This is partly because the surgery is complex and technically demanding and also because there are not too many usable lungs. Even the recipients have to be selected carefully for these procedures.” Dr Rana said the lung recipient was fine. He said the team was ready to perform more surgeries.
Lucky among four
Four recipients were waiting for the transplant, but the Sangrur-based housewife (identity withheld by the medical institute for privacy) was found to be the most suited. She turned to be the luckiest of the lot as the donor’s parameters matched with hers. Earlier, the PGI had many requests for lung donation, but a few of them either died or were shifted to other private centres. At present, there were four patients who had requested for a lung transplant.
Dr Ashutosh Aggarwal said the surgery and the medicine cost was around Rs 7 lakh to Rs 10 lakh whereas in the private sector, the cost of treatment was around Rs 30 lakh to Rs 35 lakh. He said like in other transplant cases, in this surgery also, the patients’ monthly medicine cost would be around Rs 10,000. He said the transplanted lungs also had a life span. “On an average, these function well for five years. The patient needs to take a lot of precautions as because of immune-suppressant medicines, there are chances of the patient catching infections easily,” said Dr Aggarwal.
PGI breaks own record
The PGI not only surpassed the figure of 27 cadaver organ donations last year, but also became the first public sector hospital in the country to carry out a lung transplant.
The transplant team
A team of over 20 doctors and support staff comprising anaesthetists Prof GD Puri and Prof Virendra K Arya, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons Prof Rana Sandip Singh and Dr Harkant Singh Baryah supervised by Prof T Shyam K Singh, and specialists from pulmonary medicine Prof Ashutosh Aggarwal and Dr KT Prasad, neurosurgeon Prof Rajesh Chhabra, along with resident doctors, transplant coordinators and technical and nursing staff, conducted the complex operation in over 12 hours.
The surgery started at 1.30 am. All recipients were taken to the operation theatre. The organs of the deceased were retrieved and transplanted to the recipients.
Dr Rana Sandip Singh said the lungs were transplanted through a process called bilateral surgical lung transplant.
The doctors did not sleep even after performing the 12-hour-long surgery and monitored the progress of the transplant cases.
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