Chandigarh, also viewed by many as an ‘Island of Excellence”, has been applauded for many ‘first of kind’ procedures in the past. Yet, even for one of its prestigious medical institutes a new glorious chapter has been added to its book of laurels recently, writes Priya Yadav of Elets News Network (ENN).
It’s a moment of glory for the prestigious Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, as the institute recently became the first government hospital in the country to have successfully conducted one of the most complicated organ transplants — lung transplant.
The procedure, conducted in July, has once again proved the mettle, expertise and high level of dedication of the doctors and the paramedics at the government hospital.
PGIMER has already been running programmes for liver, heart, kidney, bone marrow and cornea transplant. The lung transplant is another feather in its cap now. Transplant of pancreas and the intestine is on the cards now.
The institute takes pride in the fact that the transplant surgery centre is one of the pioneers in transplantation in India. The first renal transplant was performed 44 years ago, in June 1973. Today, it is still one of the largest centres providing composite facilities for renal transplantation in the country.
What makes the institute so special is the subsidised rates at which the most complex and challenging of procedures, requiring state of the art equipment and world class expertise, are done.
A renal transplant in a private sector costs over Rs 20 lakhs where at PGI the cost is barely Rs 70,000. Similarly, the lung transplant that would cost Rs 45 lakhs in a private sector is done at just Rs 10 lakhs. The first one was done absolutely free of cost.
The donor for the first lung transplant was a 22-year-old young man, Bhola Singh, from a village in Punjab who suffered severe head injuries after his scooter was hit by a speeding vehicle. After he was declared brain dead, the transplant coordinator at the institute convinced the family to donate organs to which the latter finally agreed.
A team of over 20 surgeons and paramedics spent over 12 hours in the operation theatre wherein they retrieved six organs and saved four lives. Apart from this, two were given vision.
The recipient is a 34-year-old woman (name withheld) from Sangrur. For her, what started off as a bad cough led to breathlessness and the condition rapidly deteriorated.
When she was brought to PGI she was told that 95% of her lungs were completely damaged and that she had to be on an oxygen machine all the time. Or, she could be saved if there was a donor. As soon as Bhola Singh’s family gave consent to donate his organs, the PGI made a call to the recipient and she was admitted to the hospital for the transplant.
Commenting on the success of the surgery, Director PGI, Professor Jagat Ram, said, “Though cadaver donor organ transplants have picked up across the country, lung transplants are still quite uncommon. This is partly because the surgery is complex and technically demanding and also because there are not too many usable lungs. PGI not only surpasses the 27 number of cadaver organ donations of last year but also has to its credit the first in public sector hospitals in lung transplant surgery in India.”
The approval for the transplant was given to the institute in 2013. “Due to non-availability of a perfect matching donor-recipient, we had been waiting to perform this transplant since long,” said Dr Rana Sandeep Singh, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, PGI.
Dr Vipin Kaushal, the nodal officer for Regional Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation, PGI said, “We are also doing cadaveric transplantation depending upon the availability of the cadavers and we maintain a list of patients who need organs. We are proud to say that our success rate in transplants is among the best in the country.”
Renal transplants, which began over forty years ago, are still the most popular at the Institute. The department of Nephrology has a six bedded ICU which was upgraded to twelve beds recently and has a separate Operation theatre complex dedicated to transplant and related surgery and has state of the art equipments for managing patients in the intra-op and post-op period.
“The department has experience of performing more than 1,500 living as well as cadaver donor renal transplants so far and has performed renal transplants in a number of complex situations. In addition to this, it is also involved in various vascular access procedures for Haemodialysis and has been performing major vascular surgery procedures,” he said.
The department introduced advanced laparoscopic methods for retrieval of donor kidneys in 2004 and is currently performing laparoscopic donor nephrectomy in all donors.
The organ transplant team in PGI is one of the most proactive across the country. No one understands and appreciates the true value of donation of an organ more than this team. That is why, in March this year, when they got organs donated, heart and liver, that did not match any of their own patients, they alerted the National Organ & Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO).
A team of 30 specialised doctors worked over a period of 72 hours of uncertainty while the government worked to provide four green corridors in two cities and two planes to airlift of the heart and liver of a 40-year-old brain-dead patient from Chandigarh to Delhi on Monday (August 21).
It gave a new lease of life to four people in three hospitals — PGIMER in Chandigarh, AIIMS in Delhi and Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon.
It maybe noted that in a bid to speed up the transportation of the organs to the airport, the first green corridor was created with the help of the UT Police in Chandigarh, ensuring that the ambulance reached the airport in a span of 20 minutes. The chartered flight departed at 7.55 am for Delhi and with the help of green corridor in Delhi, it reached Gurgaon.