Hvovi Minocherhomji, a 21-year-old Bandra resident, is probably the first person from Maharashtra to have undergone a heart transplant. She was suffering from end-stage heart failure and transplant was the only option if she was to survive. She got the organ from a brain-dead person on Monday from the Chennai government hospital. And the doctors decided to conduct the surgery on the same day.
The state lags far behind as far as heart transplant surgeries are concerned. It has not seen a single such surgery since the time hospitals were granted permission to perform them.
Hvovi, a commerce student, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart becomes so weak and enlarged that the supply of blood to the lungs, liver and other organs is affected.
With her heart's pumping efficiency dropping from 60% to 10-15%, and several parts of body swelling up, Hvovi was barely able to walk, and was facing breathlessness, for which she repeatedly approached several Mumbai hospitals.
Hvovi's family then thought they may have to go abroad for her treatment, but soon came to know that treatment was available in Chennai. Two weeks ago, they got her admitted to Fortis Malar Hospital at Adyar in Chennai.
"Hvovi wouldn't have been able to survive for more than six months had the heart transplant not been done. After she was admitted into our hospital, we put her on waiting list. After waiting for about two weeks, we got the heart tissue of a 27-year-old, the victim of a road accident, who was declared brain dead. It matched that of Hvovi, who is O+. One of the doctor's team harvested the heart from the road accident victim, who was in a government hospital located 15km away," said Dr KR Balakrishnan, director, cardiac sciences, Fortis Malar Hospital.
"Heart transplant procedure is not new to us. After harvesting the heart from the brain-dead patient, we had to implant it in Hvovi within four hours. With the help of the police, we have established a system called green corridor. All signals go green and the traffic police are informed that a heart is being transported. The vehicle transporting the heart from the government hospital to Fortis Malar was provided an escort vehicle. We transplanted the heart, and Hvovi will now have to spend at least a week in the intensive care unit. A heart transplant patient can easily lead a normal life for more than 10 years," he added.
7 hospitals have permission for surgery
According to the Maharashtra health services department, even 18 years after seven hospitals in the city were granted permission to conduct heart transplant operation, not a single such surgery has been performed in Mumbai.
The Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai has appealed to heart patients who may need transplant to register their names with the hospital. Once the hospital finds a suitable donor, the patients would be informed.
The hospital is also ready to perform the first five surgeries free of cost. But so far, no one has got himself registered.