For the first time in Kerala, a harvested heart of a brain-dead person was airlifted from a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram to another hospital in Kochi on Friday evening and has been transplanted successfully in the recipient.
The heart of a brain-dead man Neelakantan Sharma, an advocate and resident of Parashala was transported using Naval air ambulance from the Sree Chitra Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology to Lissie Hospital in Kochi and has been successfully transplanted in a 47-year old auto rickshaw driver, Mathew Antony of Chalakudi. Sharma who was suffering from paralysis had been undergoing treatment at a hospital since July 5. Kochi is 200 km away from Thiruvananthapuram by road. It took one hour and seventeen minutes to transport the heart from the Thiruvananthpuram International Airport to Kochi Naval Airport. The state government had intervened in the matter following which the Navy arranged its Dornier aircraft from the Kochi Naval base to transport the heart from the capital to the hospital in Kochi, with a medical team. The police regulated the traffic from the naval base to the hospital and the team of doctors successfully transplanted the organ after hours-long surgery. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy called it a ‘great achievement’ in the state’s medical history adding that the government would be encouraging more similar endeavours in future.
The state government launched its Deceased Donor Organ Transplantation Program ‘Mrithasanjeevani’ in August last year and since then the program has been advancing at a phenomenal rate garnering appreciation from all sides. According to the program report, Sharma is the state’s 136th donor and Mathew, the 361th recipient. So far, organs like heart, kidneys, liver, small intestine and pancreas have been transplanted from deceased donors saving the lives of 360 people. According to the Mrithasanjeevani scheme, 210 out of the 240 people who received kidneys from brain-dead donors, 14 out of 15 people who received heart transplants, 86 out of 98 people who received liver and one person who received a pancreatic transplant are leading normal and healthy lives. This year, thirty two people have donated their organs so far. The number of people registered for organs like heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas with Kerala Network for Organ Sharing (KNOS), the coordinating body for Mrithasanjeevani, come up to around 1500. While 6 people are waiting for hearts, 152 look forward to receiving livers, 1118 renal patients await kidneys and one, for pancreas.
Earlier the number of people who registered their names for organs were comparatively lesser; the number is gradually increasing. Once the family of the brain-dead patient gives consent for organ donation, it is the responsibility of the hospital to bear all expenses for maintaining the patient till the harvesting is completed. While the families of nine people gave consent for organ transplantation in 2012, the number was 58 last year. So far, 135 families have given consent to organ transplantation. The number has crossed 10 lakhs after 2012. The families of the brain-dead people are now coming forward initiating organ transplantation to save the lives of the people in need. The success stories of organ transplantation have prompted more people to register with the program especially the youth and the reluctance to donate organs are coming down. While such incidents intrigue and inspire the young generation living in a society where the people are ripped off life, property and self respect, they alleviate the pangs of regret among the older generation. Such incidents that bring light into the lives of the hapless patients are laudable and should be encouraged. The support of the state government is also worth mentioning and appreciable. Let the government, the officials, media, public groups and the common man join hands and strive towards such righteous endeavours.