B'lore: Narayana Hrudayalaya - Asia’s 1st Artificial Heart Transplant
Times of India
Bangalore, Apr 10: If your heart has packed up, surgical procedures have failed and no natural hearts are available for transplantation, it still does not mean that you have to die. Get yourself an artificial heart and doctors of Bangalore’s Narayana Hrudayalaya will plug it in for you. The life-saving device costs a cool Rs 34 lakh.
On March 20, 54-year-old Venkatakrishnaiah became the first Asian to have an artificial heart implantation. This KPTC employee had a severe heart attack in 2003. Despite a bypass surgery, he was unable to work and took voluntary retirement.
“All my children were still studying. As the sole breadwinner of the family, I was forced to take voluntary retirement. After the bypass surgery, my condition worsened and I was unable to walk six steps. But after the implantation of the artificial heart, I can walk, climb stairs and am even planning to work,’’ said a relieved Venkatakrishnaiah.
In India, about 20 million patients suffer from heart failure, a number that is increasing by two million annually. About 20% of these patients die each year without aid. Patients with end-stage heart failure have limited options — heart transplant or use of ventricular assist devices (VADs). Heart transplantation is limited by availability of donor organs. At present, donor supply limits heart transplantation to about 3,500 hearts globally every year.
A viable alternative is implantation of VAD. A team of doctors from Narayana Hrudayalaya lead by Dr Bagirath R and Dr T R Rajesh, along with a team lead by Dr Lyle Joyce, Surgical Director of the Ventricular Assist Device Program of Minnesota, US, successfully implanted a VAD in Venkatakrishnaiah, in a surgery that took over four hours. Though there have been 220 such implants worldwide, this is Asia’s first.
The surgery was sponsored by Narayana Hrudayalaya. However, this device costs around Rs 34 lakh, including tax. The total cost, surgery included, is around Rs 40 lakh.
“More than 100 patients are waiting for heart implantation surgery. If the patients can afford the device, we are ready to do the surgery for free,’’ Dr Devi Shetty, chairman of Narayana Health City, said.
A left VAD is a battery-operated, mechanical pump-type device. It is a centrifugal pump that is surgically implanted in the lower part of the chest below the heart. The LVAD measuring 60 mm in diameter, weighs 298 gm.
There is a cable from the abdominal wall to the outside of the body. It is attached to the pump’s battery and control system incorporated in a compact pack, which the patients have to carry around. This form of heart transplantation is also called “destination therapy”.
Since the battery is externally connected to the patient’s body, if proper care is not taken, infection could occur. They should also avoid magnetic fields. Dr Bagirath says patients can lead a normal life after this surgery.