12th Year of eHealth

The Curious Case of Two Beating Hearts

A 45-year-old patient has two beating hearts in his chest after doctors at KMCH, Coimbatore, successfully performed Asia’s first Heterotopic Heart plantation on a beating heart using the Direct Pulmonary Artery Anastomosis technique.

A Kerala man’s heart functioning level was only 10% when he was admitted at KMCH, Coimbatore, for a surgery. His was the case of two beating hearts – a rare condition that might seem like science fiction to many. Following the surgery, the 45-year-old man became the first person in Asia to live with two beating hearts. While one was his own, the other was taken from a woman.

Dr Prasanth Vaijyanath, Consultant, Cardio Thorasic Surgeon; Dr Thomas Alexander, Dr Suresh Kumar and Dr Vivek Path team, successfully performed this surgery, which is Asia’s first Heterotopic Heart plantation on a beating heart using the Direct Pulmonary Artery Anastomosis technique.

The patient, Vignesh (name changed), had to undergo transplantation because of the high lung pressure, which did not allow him to undergo a normal heart transplantation. Calling it a “hard and demanding surgery”, the doctors said the patient’s own heart (native heart) was only 10% operative. It was also by sheer chance that Vugnesh received the heart of a female donor, which was smaller in size and a perfect fit in the cavity.

Dr Prasanth Vaijyanath added that this operation was also genetically fascinating because, now, the man not only has the XY chromosome that all men have, but also the XX chromosome of a woman owing to the heart beating within him.

Explaining the functioning of the two hearts, the doctor said, “There are five connections between the two hearts. Two of these connections are meant to take in pure blood, while three are meant to take the impure blood out. The two connections placed between the left atriums of the two hearts is what makes sure that blood can be shared. On the right-hand side, doctors have connected the Superior Vena Cava, Inferior Vena Cava and the Pulmonary Artery. Connecting them with the beating heart was the hardest task and that makes this operation very challenging.”

While most of the doctors abroad have connected the pulmonary arteries of the two hearts using an artificial connector, here at KMCH, in Vignesh’s case, the arteries were connected directly to the beating heart.

The doctor also revealed that the weight, blood group and the age of the donor were similar to that of the recipient, stating that such details are often compared and analysed before any heart transplant is done.

As a matter of fact, there are only four centres in the world which have the facilities and experts to perform such transplants and one of these is the Cardiac Department, KMCH, Coimbatore.

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