“For hours we were under immense stress; the moment the doctor came out and said the surgery was successful, I felt like my heart would explode with happiness,” said 20-year-old Azam Khan, whose elder brother Anwar on Monday underwent the first-ever successful heart transplant in Mumbai.
Also Read: A heart's 90-min journey from Pune to Mulund
22-year-old Anwar was a fitness freak known to spend hours in the gym, so when he fell ill, it took his family and friends by surprise
The historic result notwithstanding, the family had been nervous about the complicated surgery all along, and were uncertain whether to go ahead with it or not.
Anwar’s father, Jamil told mid-day, “We are indebted to the doctors and the entire hospital staff, as well as the police and RTO officials for their efforts to save our son’s life.”
Read Story: 'It was like my own heart was brought to Mumbai'
(From left) Anwar Khan’s father Jamil, brother Azam and his best friend, Narendra Dhule are relieved with the success of the transplant
Yesterday, this paper had highlighted how the transplant took place after elaborate efforts to retrieve the donor heart from Pune, move it to Fortis Hospital in Mulund within 90 minutes, and then pull off the path-breaking, three-hour surgery (‘It was like my own heart was brought to Mumbai’, August 4).
The Khan family spoke to this correspondent from the special room allotted to them in Fortis Hospital, Mulund, where Anwar is currently in a stable condition, under observation in the ICU.
“Only a week prior to the surgery, we had listed him for the heart transplant, since doctors had informed us that his heart couldn’t function much longer. On the morning of August 2, his heart’s capacity fell to 5% and the doctors said that they would have to immediately go for the transplant since there was no other alternative.
Honestly speaking, we were all really scared, considering the complex surgery, and were not really convinced if we should go ahead with it,” recalled Jamil. In fact, Anwar’s mother had wished to take him home instead, but it was Jamil who finally decided to give the green signal.
It was then that doctors began the desperate search for a cadaver donor and eventually found one at Jehangir Hospital in Pune, where a 42-year-old woman had been declared brain dead.
Two doctors were sent from Fortis Hospital to safely get the heart from Pune to Mulund, and the responsibility to retrieve the heart was given to Dr Sanjeev Jadhav, consultant CVTS (cardio-thoracic and vascular surgery) specialist at Fortis. A green corridor was set up by the Pune and Mumbai police, as well as airport authorities in both cities, to ensure unobstructed transfer of the heart.
This is how the heart was shifted from Jehangir Hospital in Pune to Fortis in Mulund in a jaw-dropping 90 minutes. Here in Mulund, the heart was straightaway handed to the waiting hands of Dr Anvay Mulay, head of cardiac surgery and his team.
The surgery went on for over three hours, and around 11 pm, Anwar was wheeled out to the ICU and his family was informed about the operation’s success. “The patient is stable and his vital signs are strengthening. A few more days of intensive monitoring will be required and the patient should be able to go back to his everyday life in a few weeks,” said Dr Mulay.
Dr S Narayani, zonal director, Fortis Hospital, said, “Our prime focus was to save the boy’s life and we did that. Now we have to stabilise the patient and ensure that the surgery is successful. This breakthrough opens a plethora of opportunities to build a robust heart transplant programme in Mumbai.”
“We are also delighted to note that the CM of Maharashtra, in spite of his busy schedule, has extended best wishes towards the recipient of city’s first successful heart transplant. It is indeed a momentous occasion for us and for the family of the recipient,” Dr Narayani added.
How it began
22-year-old Anwar hails from Badlapur, where his family runs a scrap-dealing business. He had recently finished a diploma course in animation and had barely completed two months as a 3D animation designer at an organisation called Prime Focus.
“He had played state-level football and volleyball while we were studying at Bharat College together. He learnt karate as well. Being a fitness freak, he would spend hours in the gym. Computers were his forte, both software and hardware.
There was not a single field that he didn’t excel in, and that’s why when his health started deteriorating, we couldn’t believe it,” said Anwar’s best friend of 10 years, Narendra Dhule. His family was stunned when Anwar was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, of disease that affects the heart muscle.
They spent a month knocking on the doors of every hospital and heart specialist they could find, but no one could give them answers. The family said they even approached the Asian Heart Hospital, to no avail. “Experts told us that his heart was functioning at the capacity of 6% and that it would be impossible to save him.
Eventually, one of our friends who works at Fortis suggested the hospital,” said Dhule, who has accompanied the Khan family throughout the process. Once the treatment started, Anwar even seemed to be getting better, and his heart function went up to 15%.
We were really hopeful that he would get better with time,” said the younger brother, Azam. However, on August 2, his health began a steep decline and the family rushed him to the hospital, where he eventually was given a new lease of life.