Several successful heart transplantations in the state bear testimony to the dexterity of his scalpel-wielding hand.
Dr Jose Chacko Periyappuram, fascinated by the beauty of the beating heart, once dreamed of becoming the first cardiac surgeon to perform a heart transplant in the country. It was a near impossible dream as doctors in India had already started performing such surgeries.Years later in 2003, Dr Periyappuram became the first cardiac surgeon to perform a heart transplantation in the state. Recently, the surgeon, now credited with nine heart transplants, became the first surgeon to perform a successful heart re-transplant operation in the country.
According to him, though the state has started embracing a culture of organ donation, dearth of medical experts is still a problem.
He himself had to travel with the donor team to harvest the heart needed for transplantation, because of paucity of experts.
The transplantation has to be performed and the transplanted heart has to start beating four hours after harvesting, he said.
“If there are more experts, the doctor who undertakes the transplantation could stay at the hospital to prepare the patient for the operation, while the donor team reaches the hospital. Now, the preparation starts only after the donor team arrives, because the doctor should be there in case the patients suffers a cardiac arrest,” he said.
The life span of a heart transplant patient is comparatively low in India when compared to the West.
“In West if it is above 25 years, here we hardly get 10 to 11 years. The unhygienic situation prevailing here is a major issue. Extreme care should be taken to prevent the patient from getting infected,” he said.
Dr Periyappuram says absence of proper diagnosis of heart problems is another major issue. “They might go to general physicians and other doctors who would give medicines for asthma and chest infection,” he said.