Mumbai doctors hope to improve paediatric heart exchanges

This morning at 9 am, doctors from Fortis Mulund are scheduled to harvest a 20-year-old female donor’s heart at Choitaram Hospital, Indore. She could, in fact, be an ideal donor for Mumbai resident, 17-year-old Sweden D’Souza. If all goes well, this will be the first paediatric heart transplant in western India.

Nakul Chavan
Nakul Chavan

On December 27, 14-year-old Nakul Chavan from Nashik, who was being treated at Fortis Mulund, succumbed to restrictive cardiomyopathy. Chavan, who was being taken to Fortis Malhar Hospital in Chennai for a probable transplant, had to turn back due to the floods.

But the city’s medical experts are hopeful that finding paediatric donors will not be so difficult in the future. Last month, the first exchange with Gujarat, city’s fifth heart transplant, opened gates of donors.

The hurdles
The major hurdle while locating a paediatric donor is finding a donor whose heart exactly matches the weight and blood group of the patient. “We are in contact with hospitals, as well as independent doctors, across the country on social media,” said Dr Vijay Agarwal, paediatric cardiac surgeon at Fortis Mulund, where Nakul was being treated.

“We need as many patients as donors. Last week we had to refuse a patient because he was B+ and we needed a donor with A+ or O+ blood group. We know that there are at least 100-150 paediatric cardiac patients who need a transplant and are not registered with us.”

When hospitals or doctors tie up with other hospitals across the country, the organ is donated to the top priority patient. This is decided on the basis of the strength of the heart.

Dr Sujata Patwardhan, general secretary of the Zonal Transplant Coordination Center (ZTCC) said there were 11 patients on the waiting list for a transplant on our state-wide list. “But recently, two of them backed out after they couldn’t manage the expense of treatment.”

Nilesh Mandlewala, president of Donate Life, a Surat-based NGO, said that the new corridor between Gujarat and Mumbai will help in paediatric heart transplant cases. “We are in touch with the doctors from Mumbai and as soon as we get a probable donor, applicable for the patients, we will work towards a successful paediatric heart transplant,” said Mandlewala.

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