On 3 August 1994, a group of surgeons at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi performed the first heart transplant surgery in India.
Before 1994, Indians had to go abroad to get this procedure which was expensive and affordable only to a few. While times have changed and many health care centres offer this procedure, not many people are aware of it.
Today, we explain you everything about heart transplant in a short guide.
What Is It?
As the name suggests, it is the replacement of a damaged heart with a donor’s healthy heart. The donor is a diseased person who has agreed to let his/her heart be used as a donor's heart.
Why Is It Performed?
The human heart in its most elemental form is a pump which supplies oxygen rich blood to the organs of the body. When it is not able to pump efficiently, complications arise. While simple procedures can correct the defect, on occasions when the heart does not respond to these routine procedures and therapies, a heart transplant is performed as a last resort.
How Does One Get On A Donor List?
To be eligible for a donor's heart, one’s name should be put on a transplant list. To get on the list, the concerned patient has to undergo a number of tests. Doctors and health workers undertake a physical and psychological evaluation of the patient.
The main questions which need to be answered are the patient’s ability to survive the transplant, state of other organs, any pre-existing diseases, lifestyle and behavioural factors.
If the patient is cleared after all the tests and evaluations, he or she is put on the list.
What Happens During The Procedure?
Once a donor's heart is found, it is cooled and kept in a special solution. The transplant procedure begins as soon as the donor's heart reaches the hospital.
The patient throughout the procedure is put on a heart-lung machine. It enables the body to receive oxygen rich blood during the procedure. The surgeon then removes the patient’s damaged heart but leaves behind the right and left atria; two upper chambers of the heart.
The surgeon then takes the donor's heart and connects it to the aorta, the pulmonary artery, and the two atria. Once the new heart begins to beat, the patient is taken off the heart-lung machine.
What Is The Post Operation Procedure?
The patient is moved to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after the procedure. A ventilator assists the patient to breathe. Most patients are able to walk around a few days after the procedure. They are kept under observation to ascertain if the body rejects the new transplanted heart.
A heart transplant helps to lead a healthier and more fulfilling life. We hope this small guide helped you understand the procedure better.