On 24 August this year, 42 year-old cardiac patient Satish Kumar got a new lease of life when the Heartware Ventricular Assist Device (HVAD) was transplanted in his heart at Fortis Malar Hospital in Chennai. It was the first such surgery in the country. Now similar surgeries are being planned in couple of Mumbai hospitals.
HVAD is a tiny device that pumps blood in a heart that has been irreparably damaged. It is a new ray of hope for people who suffer from cardiac ailments that cannot be treated through angioplasty or a coronary bypass surgery.
Kumar was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (weakened heart muscle that leads to heart failure) in May 2011, and was under medical care and strict lifestyle modifications since then. But things changed in July this year, when Kumar suddenly felt chest pain and passed out in his car when he was returning after dinner. An employee of Fortis Hospital was passing by. He pulled Kumar out of the car, and performed cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). However, when that didn’t work Kumar was rushed to the hospital, where he was revived with electric shocks.
“His Left Ventricular had failed. For such cases we have only two options, heart transplant which is not possible immediately, or put the HVAD pump, the latest technology across the world,” Dr KR Balakrishnan, director, cardiac sciences, Fortis Malar Hospital, told dna. “The arrival of HVAD in India will be a major medical milestone for those who cannot avail a transplant,” he said.
He added, “Within a few weeks of operation, the patient can ambulate, take a shower, go out for a walk, travel short distances and also climb stairs. The unique advantage of this device is that it’s the smallest available in the world and fits fully within the small space around the heart. There is no need to open up other body cavities to fit it inside. This is a beautiful advantage because it reduces overall invasiveness. The only issue is the cost, around Rs80 lakhs.”
Meanwhile, Kumar feels rejuvenated. “It’s a second life for me. I used to feel weak and drowsy at work, and while spending time with my wife and children. Now, just few weeks after my surgery, I already feel 10 years younger. After several years I can read a magazine completely without falling asleep mid way,” Kumar said.