Though implantation of Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) can be explored as a temporary alternative to heart transplantation, the prohibitive cost of Rs 50 lakh per surgery is acting as a deterrent from exploring the option, according to Dr Jayakumar K, Head of the Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Department of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) here.
Jayakumar was briefing mediapersons on Wednesday about the upcoming 60th Annual Conference of the Indian Association of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons (IACTSCON-2014).
Jayakumar is the organising secretary of the three-day event that begins in Kovalam on Thursday.
“Implantation of LVAD can be a bridge to actual heart transplantation. Since there is always a time gap in getting a donor heart for a person with left ventricular failure, LVAD can be used as a temporary alternative till a compatible heart is found. However in Indian scenario, the implant is used as long as it can function effectively inside the patient’s body,” Jayakumar said.
Though the implantation may cost up to Rs 50 lakh, the government can explore ways of supporting patients from economically-weaker backgrounds through schemes similar to the Karunya Benevolent Fund, he said, adding that patients needing heart transplant constitute roughly five per cent of patients referred for various cardiac surgeries.
While the state has witnessed around five heart transplant surgeries, LVAD implantation has not yet been explored in the state as the cost factor is acting as a major deterrent, he said.
“As a prestigious institution, SCTIMST is keen on conducting heart transplantation surgeries. We can do it, but we should ensure that such a procedure, involving huge amount of money, is actually beneficial to the patient in the long run,” Jayakumar said.
Jayakumar also said that in case of valve implantation surgeries, the innovative Trans-aortic Valve Implantation technique had not gained popularity in the country because of the huge cost involved.
As per Indian laws, the valve should be implanted in at least 50 patients on a trial basis for grant of licence. This deters companies as each implantation costs up to Rs 25 lakh, he said.
Elaborating on IACTSCON-2014, Jayakumar said that the conference would provide a platform for surgeons from India to interact with leading cardiovascular and thoracic surgeons across the world.
Dr Frederick Mohr (Germany), Dr Michael Mack (USA), Dr David Taggart (UK) and Dr Hiroshi Date (Japan) will be among the 16 invited foreign speakers. A total of 48 Indian speakers will also address the conference.
“The conference will be attended by over 1,200 delegates from India and abroad. A total of 394 research papers on cardio-vascular and thoracic surgery, 64 invited lectures and several hands-on training sessions are other highlights of the conference,” Jayakumar said.