KOCHI: As the heart that belonged to Neelakanta Sharma was airlifted and brought to Kochi, the city bore witness to a high drama which seemed like a scene straight out of the 2011 hit movie ‘Traffic’. This was the first time that a heart was airlifted from one district to another in the state. During the peak hour the road between Naval Base and Lisie Junction was cleared, sirens blared and commuters looked on in horror as the ambulance with police vehicles as pilots whizzed past them.
The heart was airlifted from Thiruvananthapuram on a specially chartered Navy flight for 47-year-old Mathew Achadan who is admitted at Lisie Hospital, Kochi. The special flight which took off at 6.40 pm from Thiruvananthapuram landed here at around 7.30 pm at the Naval airport at Naval Base.
The team carrying the heart was on a tight schedule as they had planned a quick and short journey between the airport and the hospital. “We took prompt action to block traffic at all the intersections. The ambulance carrying the heart was provided with a pilot police vehicle. They took roughly about 10 minutes to reach the hospital,”informed Mohammed Rafeeq, DCP. Though the distance from the Navy airport to Lisie Hospital is only about 7km, during peak hours on a working day it would take nearly 30 minutes to cover this distance, he added.
Speaking about the operation, Lisie Hospital Public Relations manager Rajesh V R said: “We were informed on Thursday evening that Neelakanda Sharma had suffered a brain death and his death was confirmed today morning. Mathew Achadan has been under treatment at Lisie Hospital for some time now. It took nearly 1.40 hours for the operation.”
Antony Joseph Ponseka, the driver of the ambulance, said he sped through the city roads between 80-90km/hour. “I was definitely tensed, but I am relieved that everything went according to plan and that I reached here on time,”said Antony. Antony who has been working as an ambulance driver at Lisie Hospital for the past 10 years thanked the traffic police for their support.
The surgery was headed by Dr Jose Chacko Periappuram. After three hours of hard work and precision, it was informed that the first phase of the surgery was successful. “The heart is compatible with the body and has begun beating well,”informed Rajesh.