Mumbai's first heart transplant patient gears up for second life

Aug 25, 2015, 06:59 IST | Sadaguru Pandit

Exactly three weeks after he underwent Mumbai’s first successful heart transplant, 22-year-old Anwar Khan walked out of the hospital yesterday to begin his second life.

Read Story: 'It was like my own heart was brought to Mumbai'

Anwar Khan (centre) is thrilled to be going home after nearly a month, and looks forward to watching movies and getting back to work. Pic/Sharad Vegda
Anwar Khan (centre) is thrilled to be going home after nearly a month, and looks forward to watching movies and getting back to work. Pic/Sharad Vegda

While he is thrilled to be going home, getting safely through the next few months will still be a challenge for the youth, with the danger of heart rejection looming over him. He is on medication to suppress any reaction to the transplanted organ, as a result of which his immunity will also be compromised.

The fitness buff will have to let go of hobbies such as bike racing and working out, and avoid public places for at least a while, until his immunity picks up. But Anwar takes heart from the fact that he can finally go home and be with his family, and has even prepared a list of things he wants to do.

First on the list is watching a Salman Khan film. “I am a huge fan of Salman. The last movie I watched of his was Bajrangi Bhaijaan; this was when I wasn’t well. Now I’ll meet all my family and friends and watch a movie with them,” he told this paper.

Also Read: Recipient's family was unsure about going ahead with heart transplant

On a call with mid-day, Anwar expressed his gratitude towards the donor’s family and the hospital staff, including doctors, nurses and other health workers. “I am eternally thankful to the entire staff members and doctors of the hospital. It feels like a second birth for me.

It just felt great when I opened my eyes again after the surgery; I was able to breathe normally again,” said the youth. Anwar, who hails from a scrap-dealing family from Badlapur, is also looking forward to getting back to work.

He had recently finished a diploma course in animation and had barely completed two months working as a 3D animation designer when he ha been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. Now that that is all behind, however, Anwar has been practising animation designs during recovery at the hospital, and hopes to start working from home soon.

Medical care
Since Anwar is on immunosuppressant or anti-rejection drugs, his immunity is low and he is at greater risk of catching communicable diseases. To keep tabs on his health, doctors at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, have created a hotline through which his family can keep them updated, even if Anwar catches a minor cough or cold.

The 22-year-old will have to wear masks and avoid public places for six months or so, to avoid any infections. To protect his health, doctors also intend to begin vaccinations for hepatitis, influenza and pneumonia. “As of now he is on immunosuppressants and the medicine has its own set of side effects.

Hence we can’t put him on vaccinations as of now, since the vaccine itself can result in a disease. We will lower the dosage of immunosuppressant as he gets better, and will start vaccinations then — probably within three months’ time,” said Dr Anvay Mulay, who led the transplantation team at Fortis.

Mumbai heart transplants: Both patients are recovering well, say docs

He added that while heart transplant patients take longer time to recover than kidney or liver recipients, the rejection rate has come down since 2009 due to advanced medication. “However, Anwar will also have to take care that he isn’t exposed to extreme emotional strain because that can result in palpations and rapid heartbeats which can be fatal,” cautioned Dr Mulay.

Homecoming feast
Amongst the many dos and don’ts that Anwar has to follow, is a strict restriction on red meat and alcohol or any food from outside. However, to welcome him home, his family prepared a grand feast of chicken biryani, fish fry, and several preparations of chicken and egg, which are all his favourites.

Second patient
Meanwhile, the city’s second heart transplant patient, a 29-yr-old Kalamboli resident, is also doing well, said Fortis Hospital (‘Mumbai witnesses second heart transplant success within a week’, mid-day, August 8). He has already been shifted to the general ward and will also be discharged within a week or two, said Dr Mulay.

“The patient is able to sit and walk in the room and eat. But his condition when he came in, was worse than the first patient’s, so we will probably wait a week or two before we discharge him,” Dr Mulay added.

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