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KEM Hospital, Mumbai set to launch heart transplant program

The civic-run KEM Hospital in Parel is poised to start its heart transplant programme, as its cardiac surgery department has enrolled two patients for heart transplants. Securing the license to conduct heart transplants in December 2023, the hospital will become the first public hospital in the state to offer this programme.

“Heart-lung transplant is one of the ambitious projects and my whole team has been working hard for the last six months to get expertise, equipment, approvals, and infrastructure in place. We now have two patients on the waitlist and waiting for the donor heart to do the transplant,” said Dr Sudhakar Shinde, additional municipal commissioner, BMC.

Sources said the hospital received close to ₹2.5 crore donation, which helped the administration buy the equipment including the ECMO machine- a vital life-saving technology in the management of advanced heart failure and heart transplant patients.

“Donation helped to start the programme sooner than waiting for the regular tendering process, which would have only extended the waiting period to begin the transplant. We now have two patients on the wait list including a 16-year-old and a 45-year-old end-stage heart disease patient. Separate arrangements have been made for post-surgery care,” said a senior doctor.

Sources said the cardiac surgery department of KEM Hospital will be assisted by heart transplant expert Dr Praveen Kulkarni and cardiac anesthetist Dr Vijay Shetty.

While heart and lung transplants are now commonly performed in the city’s private hospitals, it was in 1968 that Dr PK Sen and his team from KEM hospital carried out two transplants with limited success, barely six months after South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant.

After this, there was a long gap and end-stage heart patients went to hospitals in the southern part of India for the transplant. It was in 2015 that Fortis Hospital, Mulund, started performing heart transplants.

According to doctors, heart transplant in private hospitals costs between ₹30 to 40 lakh, but surgery will be performed at one-third the cost at the KEM hospital.

In Mumbai alone, 51 patients are on the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC) waiting list for heart transplants. Dr Hemant Pathare, heart and lung transplant surgeon at Jaslok Hospital, said India has the largest number of heart failure patients in the world. “A heart transplant programme in a public hospital will not only bring down the transplant cost but also boost cadaver organ donations,” he said. Hindustan Times

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