CHENNAI: He’s been the poster boy for multi-visceral transplants ever since doctors at Apollo Hospitals successfully transplanted a liver, intestine and pancreas into his body, end June — a rare surgical feat and a first for the country. But all that could have gone horribly wrong, when Thalaimalai sprang a bleed during a ‘routine biopsy’; and they didn’t have the coagulation factor to save his life.
“We were doing a routine biopsy when he sprang a bleed. It was unexpected, but we would have been able to stop it if we had stock of Novo Seven,” said Dr Anand Khakar, Director of Liver Disease and Transplantation. Bleeding profusely, he needed the drug to stop bleeding and survive.
When they needed the drug around 4 pm on Tuesday, they were dismayed to find that nobody in the city had stock. “When we got in touch with the company rep, he told us that they didn’t have stock in Bangalore, Hyderabad or any centre close to us. The closest place where it was available was Ahmedabad,” said a transplant coordinator. With luck and time running thin, they contacted every airline to see if anybody could fly the drug in. “Nobody had a flight from Gujarat in the evening and if we had waited it could have been fatal,” he added.
Just as they were about to give up, they received a call from the airport and were told that a new, small airline called Air Costa had a late flight LB 633 flying from Ahmedabad to Chennai, reaching at 11.35 pm. “Immediately, we called and asked them for this favour. They said that it was a small plane and thus had no cargo space,” he related. And that’s when they made an offer that brought luck straight back into their corner — Costa offered to have a crew member take possession of the drug and fly it to Chennai and hand it over without too much delay, or expense.
Novo Seven, a granulated drug manufactured by Novo Nordisk pharmaceuticals is a coagulation factor that is used to clot blood for post-transplant patients. Each dose is estimated to cost `2.5 lakh.