Kochi: Harvesting a live heart from a deceased person in one city and transporting it to the operation table of a hospital in another city is nothing new to Kerala. Recently, the state witnessed the reversal of the entire process to give a new lease of life to a critically-ill patient.
Joseph Kutty, a native of Edathua in Alappuzha district, who was suffering from a chronic cardiovascular condition, was taken all the way from Bengaluru to Ernakulam to undergo a heart transplant.
The 54-year-old was airlifted by a helicopter and, within hours, the transplant surgery was performed successfully by a team of doctors, led by Dr Jose Chacko Periappuram, at Lisie Hospital in Ernakulam.
The donor of live heart was a 38-year-old-man P M Manoj, a native of Mala in Thrissur district, who was declared brain dead after being injured grievously in a road accident.
Joseph Kutty was undergoing treatment for right ventricular dysfunction at a private hospital in Bengaluru when he was given an intimation of organ availability by the Kerala Network for Organ Sharing, the nodal agency for the state's organ donation program, Mrithasanjeevani.
For some time, he had been on the waiting list of the Kerala Network of Organ Sharing (KNOS) which facilitates all organ transplants in the state. He registered with KNOS after doctors informed him that the damage to his heart could not be reversed or treated and his only option was to have a transplant.
However, he had to endure long wait after stringent norms hit cadaver donation in the state.
Three months ago, Joseph Kutty was admitted to a private hospital in Bengaluru after his condition deteriorated as the poor condition of his heart affected the health of other organs.
Beating barriers of time, distance
It was on December 19 that the Mrithasanjeevani authorities informed his relatives about the availability of a suitable organ for him at Lisie Hospital.
The family made arrangements to travel to Kochi on a flight on the same day, but they missed the 11.10 am flight due to traffic hold-ups.
As Dr Jose Chacko knew that the patient's condition would worsen if the family waited for the next available flight, he contacted the Bengaluru-based Chipsan Aviation Air Charter Services and made arrangements for him to be airlifted by a helicopter.
Noble gesture from a grieving family
When the doctors at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Center declared Manoj brain dead, his family decided to donate his organs even in the midst of so much heartbreak.
The harvesting began immediately and it took about just 10 minutes to transport the live heart to Lisie hospital. All the traffic signals were kept open and police personnel were deputed to manage vehicles so that the ambulance carrying the organ would be able to pass through without any delay.
Manoj, a construction worker, sustained serious brain injuries the accident occurred last week, and all efforts by doctors at Amrita Hospital to revive him proved futile.
His wife is a visually impaired person. The couple has two children.
After obtaining the consent of Manoj's relatives, his liver was being given to Aster Medcity Hospital in Kochi, while his kidneys went to MIMS Hospital in Kozhikode.