Operation success: Sharma’s heart now beats for Mathew

Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi: The heart of a brain-dead lawyer in Thiruvananthapuram was flown to Kochi and successfully transplanted on a patient from Chalakkudy, a first in Kerala’s medical history. S Neelakanda Sharma’s heart now beats within Mathew Achadan, an auto driver from Chalakkudy.
Sharma was declared brain dead on Friday morning. Indian Navy’s Dornier aircraft carrying a team of doctors from Kochi landed in Thiruvananthapuram at 2:20 in the afternoon. The team, led by cardiologist Dr Jose Chacko Periyapuram, was hurried to the Sree Chitra Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology through a traffic corridor created by the police.
The heart was harvested by 6:20 p.m. and the aircraft took off to Kochi at 6:51 p.m. The doctors returned to Kochi with the heart at 7:35 p.m. and immediately started the transplant at Lisie Hospital. The first stage was completed by 10:15 p.m. Hospital authorities and the medical team led by Dr Jose Perippuram that conducted a six-and-a-half-hour surgery termed it a success.
The surgery was conducted by a 20-member medical team that included five surgeons.
Sharma (46), a leading lawyer in Thiruvananthapuram, was admitted to the hospital after he collapsed in the bathroom on July 6. Sharma could not be saved as there was a bleeding inside the brain, doctors informed his relatives on Thursday evening. His wife Latha and sons Subramania and Gautham gave their consent to donate his heart.
The doctors had to cross several hurdles to fly the heart safely to Kochi. The medical team from Kochi found that Sharma had a coronary artery disease which caused arteries to shrink. They had to do an angiogram on him before harvesting the heart.
The organ was put in a freezer filled with heart preservation solution. The team reached the Thiruvananthapuram airport in 10 minutes thanks to traffic regulation by the police.
The recipient of the heart was selected from a list prepared as part of the government’s Mritasanjeevani programme. Mathew (47) was diagnosed with dilated cardio myopathy which weakens the heart muscles, six months ago. Experts at Lisie Hospital had said a heart transplant was the only remedy.
As soon as they got information on Thursday about the donor, they matched Mathew’s blood group with Sharma.
The state government asked the Navy to provide an air ambulance after the hospital authorities sought help from Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. The government had also instructed the district collectors in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi to prepare for the medical mission.
Sharma’s kidneys and eyes were also donated. His kidneys will save two patients in the KIMS Hospital and the Medical College Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.Sharma’s body will be taken to his house at Parassala by noon after a brief halt at Thiruvananthapuram Bar Association Hall. It will be cremated at Parassala Brahama crematorium at 3:30 pm.

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