Apollo hospitals claimed that one of the patients was the first person to get a lung transplant after transplants were allowed during the pandemic.

When Anuj Shah went from playing badminton with his children to becoming bed-ridden as he could not breathe, life took a bizarre turn for the family.

His wife said the 39-year-old was diagnosed with hypersensitivity in the lungs in February and by June he was on a lung support machine. His doctors in Ahmedabad advised lung transplant and the family reached out to Apollo Hospitals.

Mr. Shah was airlifted and brought to Chennai in June. He had to wait for lungs till July-end. It took Mr. Shah two and half months to recover. Mr. Shah, who is recuperating at his home in Ahmedabad, said he was doing well. T. Sunder, senior cardiothoracic and heart-lung transplant surgeon at the hospital said Mr. Shah’s lung muscles had become weak due to his ailment and took time to heal. He received a double lung transplant and he was the first patient to get a transplant after the ban on doing transplants was lifted. He is able to walk around two km, that indicated a good recovery post transplant.

In another case, Ino Bhandari is grateful to the hospital that her husband is now alive. He was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease that caused fibrosis in the lungs. He was diagnosed in January and arrived at the hospital in June. Ms. Bhandari said her husband’s oxygen requirement rose from a mere few litres to 17 litres. He was put on ECMO support for 46 days. On September 2 he underwent lung transplant. He would be discharged shortly, said K. Madhan Kumar, senior consultant, heart-lung transplant surgeon.

Paul Ramesh Thangaraj, senior cardiothoracic and heart-lung transplant surgeon, who was one of the three treating surgeons said unlike the liver, heart, and kidneys, lung transplant is more challenging as it has an extreme interface with the environment.

The surgeons said the delay in transplant could have been reduced had organs been available more easily.

Hospital Chairman Prathap C. Reddy lauded the surgeons saying despite COVID-19 the hospital had taken up the challenging procedures. “The successful double lung transplant was a result of the gold standard followed in clinical organ retrieval, preservation and transport with a dedicated team coordinating the complex logistics required to ensure timely transfers, a team keeping the recipient prepped and ready, and the transplant surgery performed by some of the finest and experienced transplant surgeons in the country supported by specialists from a variety of fields, transplant coordinators, social workers, psychiatrists and anaesthesiologists,” he said.

He said the government had through an Act made transplants possible. “Cadaver supply is still low. The government must take the big step. The patient must take the decision himself if the patient wants to donate organs,” he said, adding that countries such as Singapore had included a clause in the driving licence form seeking to know if the person would like to be an organ donor.



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