After 15 days on waiting list, Mumbaikar gets a new heart

Updated: 30 September, 2020 08:01 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Mumbaikar gets a new heart after just a fortnight of being on the waiting list; this was the first inter-district heart transplant surgery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jaison Crasto contracted a virus when he was working in Los Angeles, that damaged his heart
Jaison Crasto contracted a virus when he was working in Los Angeles, that damaged his heart

Back in March, when Jaison Crasto, 28, first had shortness of breath and a cough, he had no idea that he would need a heart transplant. But after just 15 days of being told that he would need it, he got a surprise when he was told that a heart was waiting for him, as the doctors at Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital were preparing for the first inter-district heart transplant surgery.

Crasto was working on a passenger cruise ship docked near Los Angeles, when he noticed the symptoms. To make matters worse, he took the advice of one of the doctors on the ship and drank 2-3 litres of water a day, which increased his breathing troubles. "I put on 10 kgs. I went to another doctor who told me that there was fluid build-up in the abdomen. They gave me a diuretic (to increase production of urine) and I was able to pass more than 15 litres of urine within two hours and finally able to breathe," he said.

Told about heart damage

After being taken to three different hospitals in LA, doctors told him that they had found an infection and tests revealed that his heart was badly damaged. He then flew back to India in July and was taken to Reliance Hospital in Mumbai. Dr Anvay Mulay, director of advance cardiac surgery, said that the heart damage was caused by the Coxsackie virus.

Crasto with his mother and fiance. They plan to marry in December
Crasto with his mother and fiance. They plan to marry in December

"This virus starts in the stomach, enters the bloodstream and then catches the heart. It causes permanent damage to the heart very quickly," he said. He added that the incidence of Coxsackie is not very high as it affects one in 10,000 people.

When Nerul-resident Crasto was brought to Reliance Hospital, he was in an unstable condition and he was kept in the ICU for 21 days. He had to be fitted with a pacemaker-like implant to control his abnormal heart rate.

"I was put on the transplant list and sent home. Since we are in the middle of a pandemic, I had expected a longer wait and was shocked when I got the call just 15 days later," he said. Nervous and excited, Crasto drove to the hospital himself along with his mother and stopped to spend some time at Marine Drive. On September 6, he received the new heart and last week, was discharged from the hospital.

First inter-district heart transplant

Dr Bharat Shah, general secretary of Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre said the heart that came from Pune was part of the first inter-district heart transplant surgery during the pandemic.

Dr Astrid Lobo Gajiwala, director of Regional Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation, Maharashtra said, "Patients waiting for a heart transplant have no alternatives. A heart transplant is life-saving therapy. The risk of contracting COVID-19 and exposure to healthcare workers must therefore be balanced against the high-risk of mortality on the waitlist."

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First Published: 30 September, 2020 07:37 IST

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