A new first at AIIMS: 50th heart transplant

New Delhi
In a milestone surgery , the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) performed its 50th successful heart transplant -a first for any public hospital in the country -on Diwali eve this year.

The institute was the first to conduct heart transplant in India in 1994, but the rate of surgeries went down in the following years due to lack of donors.However, the hospital authorities said that it has improved significantly over the last two years.

Last year, the hospital conducted five successful heart transplants and this year, as on October 31, the hospital has transplanted hearts in 13 patients suffering from endstage failure of the organ.

“Two heart transplants have been conducted in the past week. A 42-year-old man from Rohtak was operated upon on Diwali eve, while another patient suffering from heart failure underwent the life-saving procedure on October 25. The donors in both cases were road accident victims,“ said a senior official. “We told the Rohtak man, who used to work as a DTC driver earlier, that the transplant was his Diwali gift from AIIMS,“ said Dr Sandeep Seth, professor of cardiology at AIIMS.

He said that the donor, a 35-year-old woman, weighed nearly as much as the recipient and their blood groups also matched, so there was no hurdle in the transplant.

According to Dr Balram Airan, professor of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery , who was part of the team which had performed the country's first heart transplant at AIIMS on August 3, 1994, about 350 heart transplants have been performed in India. “Maximum transplants have taken place in private hospitals. It is good that government hospitals -like ours, where the surgery is nearly free of cost -are also conducting them frequently,“ he added.

“Better coordination among local administration and air and road traffic agencies have helped improve the rate of donations and transplants,“ said Dr M C Misra, AIIMS director.

According to the medical institute, nearly 50,000 people are in immediate need of heart transplants in the country . Dr Seth said the survival rate in heart transplant cases is maximum of 17 years after the surgery .