After ‘heroic’ heart transplant, patient breathes easy

Kochi, July 25 (IANS) An autorickshaw driver was doing well here on Saturday after getting the heart of a brain dead man in Thiruvananthapuram in a meticulous four-hour “heroic effort”.

Starting from Friday afternoon, Jose Chacko Periyapuram, the cardio thoracic surgeon who performed the surgery, and his team first flew from Kochi to the state capital to remove the heart of Neelakanda Sharma.

And with the brain dead advocate’s heart, the doctors returned to the Kochi hospital, about 210 km away.

The heart was flown with the help of the Indian Navy, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s Office told IANS.

With authorities in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi making elaborate arrangements for the speedy transfer, traffic to and from the airport was brought to a standstill when the heart was ferried.

It was “a heroic effort for all of us to have done the heart transplant surgery as time was very short for us”, Periyapuram told the media on Saturday.

“All we had was four hours from the time the heart is taken out and then transplanted,” he said.

He gave full credit also to the support staff.

The patient, A. Mathew, 46, “is now on ventilator. So far so good. The very fact that we have been able to do this is itself a great thing.

“Today morning at 4 he became conscious and was given drugs. He is under constant watch. He is fine,” said Periyapuram.

The surgery started at 8 p.m. and the first phase was over by 10. After three hours and 48 minutes, Sharma’s heart started to beat in the body of Mathew.

Meanwhile, the body of Neelakanda Sharma was taken to the court building in Thiruvananthapuram where hundreds gathered to pay their last respect.

“It was the decision of his wife Latha which made the organ transplant possible,” said a relative. “Besides his heart, his eyes and kidneys were also donated.”

All this was was done as part of the Kerala government’s organ donation programme.

“We have proved that we can also do such things. This was a complete team effort,” said Chief Minister Chandy in Palakkad city.

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