SSKM gears up for coronary heart transplant unit

KOLKATA: Bengal’s premier hospital, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (IPGMER), popularly known as SSKM, is all set to become the first government hospital in the state to have a . The move, it is felt, would provide a significant boost to the city’s organ donation-transplant capacity.
As of now, three hospitals — all private — have the licence for heart transplants.

Getting ready to apply for the heart transplant licence, the SSKM authorities are now busy upgrading the cardiothoracic department.

On February 21, the hospital had declared Dipshikha Samanta (21), an engineering student, brain-dead, after which her family donated her organs. Her kidneys were transplanted to two renal failure patients at SSKM itself, and her skin and cornea were also donated. But even as doctors found her heart in good condition, her family, reportedly, wanted it to be transplanted to a patient at a government hospital itself. But since no government hospital in the state has a heart transplant facility, the heart was wasted. According to SSKM insiders, this episode stirred the authorities about the urgent need to have a heart transplant facility.

“We have started to take up the groundwork, which includes upgrading the OT, setting up a heart-transplant team, and other steps required for a heart transplant unit,” said Dr Ajay Ray, director of IPGMER. “If all goes well, we should be able to apply for the licence in about three months.”

Doctors confident of taking up more brain-death cases

Emboldened by the success of two cadaver kidney transplants, doctors at SSKM Hospital are raring to go.

The hospital already has a brain-death declaration committee that includes Dr Rajat Choudhuri, associate professor of anaesthesiology, who was involved in declaring Dipshikha brain-dead. The hospital had recently appointed a transplant coordinator as well.

“A workshop on deceased donor organ transplant, organized by ROTTO (Regional Organ and ) at IPGMER in February had sensitised doctors on brain death. We expect more brain-death declarations and are looking forward to the heart transplant facilities,” said Dr Sandeep Kumar Kar, assistant professor, cardiac anaesthesiology. Dr Kar and his team, which includes Dr Tanmoy Ganguly and Dr Atul Aman, who played a major role in maintaining Dipshikha’s organs before the actual brain-death declaration, are confident of taking up more such cases.

Though three private hospitals have heart transplant licences, not a single such surgery has taken place, because of organ unavailability. Unlike a kidney, where the organ can be obtained from a living donor, a heart has to come from a brain-dead patient or an organ donor after death.

In 2017, the state saw only one cadaver donation. But with the organ donation movement gathering momentum , more brain-death declarations are expected .

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