'It was like my own heart was brought to Mumbai'

This is how cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr Sanjeev Jadhav recalls the 90-minute journey carrying a donor heart from Pune to Mumbai; after retrieving the heart and overseeing its transfer to Mumbai, he also took part in the first successful heart transplant in Mumbai

“Every passing second reminded us that we were losing precious time. It was like my own heart was being moved to Mumbai,” said cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr Sanjeev Jadhav (42) who was part of a path-breaking operation to retrieve a donor heart in Pune, transfer it all the way to Mumbai, and carry out the first-ever successful heart transplant here.

Also read: A heart's 90-min journey from Pune to Mulund

The heart being transported from an Air Deccan chartered aircraft to a waiting van of Fortis Hospital,  Mulund
The heart being transported from an Air Deccan chartered aircraft to a waiting van of Fortis Hospital,  Mulund

In an elaborate inter-city operation involving medical experts and the police in both cities, the heart was moved from Jehangir Hospital in Pune to Fortis Hospital at Mulund. The heart was recovered from a 42-year-old Pune-based woman who was declared brain dead after she suffered an intra-cranial aneurysm.

Also read: Mumbai cops' 'Green Corridor' helps transport heart 20 km in just 18 mins

A chartered aircraft by Air Deccan flew the heart from Pune to Mumbai
A chartered aircraft by Air Deccan flew the heart from Pune to Mumbai

The woman had already pledged her organs for donation in case of death, which could possibly give a new lease of life to five patients, including the 22-year-old who received her heart yesterday. Sources said, “Six months ago, the woman had signed a pledge to donate organs after her demise.

With the help of a Green Corridor created between Pune and Mumbai, the heart was transported from Jehangir Hospital to Fortis in Mulund in a span of 90 minutes. Pic/Sharad Vegda
With the help of a Green Corridor created between Pune and Mumbai, the heart was transported from Jehangir Hospital to Fortis in Mulund in a span of 90 minutes. Pic/Sharad Vegda

From her family we learned that she was educated and kind-hearted. She loved Indian classical music and sampling different kinds of food.” The donor had been undergoing treatment at Jehangir in Pune since July 29, when she was brought in unconscious with a brain aneurysm. On August 2, she was declared brain dead and Fortis made a request for her heart.

Yesterday, Dr Jadhav operated on the deceased woman to recover her heart and then accompanied it on an Air Deccan chartered flight to Mumbai the same day. Later in the evening, he joined the Mumbai team carrying out the transplant, which finally ended successfully at 11 pm.

“I had trained for such procedures in England and Australia, and even performed such surgeries there, but this was a unique operation the first to be carried out successfully in Mumbai,” he recalled.

Dr Manisha Bobade, CEO and medical director at Jehangir Hospital monitored the entire operation which was carried out by a team of doctors including nephrologist Dr Shriniwas Ambike, and the ICU team: Dr K K Iadapati, Dr Deepak Kirepekar, Dr Nitin Gadgil and Dr Sanjeev Jadhav. The transplantation was co-ordinated by MSW Vrunda Pusalkar.

Dr Bobade said, “Moving the heart from Pune to Mumbai took about 90 minutes, from one hospital to the another. Our team had co-ordinated with the Zonal Transplant Co-ordination Committee (ZTCC). We also had good co-operation from traffic police, who ensured that the heart reached the airport within 7 minutes.”

Pune Deputy Commissi-oner of Police (Traffic) Sarang Awhad said, “Around 12 noon, we received a mail from Jehangir and accordingly I alerted my team. Usually it takes around 40 minutes from Jehangir to Pune Airport. Even for an ambulance it takes around 15 minutes, but we closed down the signals and our team manually handled the traffic and escorted the ambulance carrying the heart, making sure it reached in seven minutes.”

Eyewitness says
33-year-old web developer Sagar Bedmutha witnessed how the heart was taken from Jehangir Hospital with every possible precaution to avoid any obstructions or delays.

“I was standing at the billing counter on the ground floor of the hospital when suddenly the security guards started asking people to stand aside. They cleared the passage and made a human chain from the operation theatre to the exit.

Two ambulances were standing at the exit; I thought it was a VIP or an emergency accident case. Within moments a team of doctors was seen rushing a stretcher to the ambulance with what looked like a plastic cold storage box on it. I failed to understand what it was. Later I realised it was a heart,” said Bedmutha.

Timeline of the heart transplant

Heart transplant co-ordinated by Vruda Pusalkar, an MSW contactee Zonal Transplant Co-ordination Committee (ZTCC).

July 29, 2015: Woman is brought to the Jehangir Hospital in Pune in an unconscious state. She is diagnosed with Intra-Cranial Aneurysm.

August 2, 6.30pm: Patient declared brain dead.

Around 10 pm: Fortis Hospital in Mulund makes demand for the heart.

August 3, 1.30am: Ambulance from Mumbai reaches Jehangir Hospital in Pune.

10am: Request to enable the 'Green Corridor' is received by Pune Traffic Police, the Airport Authority of India and the Mumbai Traffic Police.

10.20am: Green corridor created in both cities.

1 pm  Private chartered aircraft reaches Pune international airport

1.10pm: Woman taken into operation theatre.

2.30pm: The organ starts journey from Jehangir Hospital.

2.45pm: The heart reaches Pune Airport.

2.55pm: The plane carrying the heart takes off.

3.19pm Plane lands at Mumbai airport.

3.30pm 12 police vehicles escort ambulance carrying cadaver heart to Fortis hospital in Mulund. The convey leaves from VVIP gate number 8 of Mumbai airport.

Route: Santacruz Airport(Gate No. 8)-Military Road-Santacruz Chembur Link Road- Chedda Nagar- Eastern Express Highway-Airoli Junction- Fortis Hospital, Mulund

3.48pm The convoy carrying heart reaches Fortis hospital.

4.00pm Heart transplant operation starts. 

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