EM Bypass: Another private hospital in Calcutta has been granted regulatory approval for heart transplantation amid concerns about organ donation remaining a hurdle because of low awareness and, as is sometimes the case, lack of coordination among various agencies.
Apollo Gleneagles received its licence on Saturday, becoming the fifth in Bengal to join the list of health care institutes authorised to conduct the procedure.
The health department had issued the first such licence in August 2017 and only one heart transplant has taken place in the city since. Dilchand Singh, a schoolteacher from Jharkhand, underwent a successful transplant at Fortis Hospital in Anandapur in May. The donor was a brain dead accident victim in Bangalore.
In Tamil Nadu, more than 300 heart transplantation surgeries took place between October 2008 and April 2017.
Hospitals in Calcutta that are authorised to do a heart transplant have long waiting lists but no donors. A few patients needing emergency transplantation have died.
Amita Singh, a homemaker from Jamshedpur, had been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy in September 2016. She enrolled for a donor in the transplant registry but her turn never came.
An official at the Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences in Mukundapur said Amita died sometime ago.
The hospital has more than 10 patients waiting for heart transplantation.
"Heart transplantation programmes will be successful only if there is sufficient awareness regarding brain-stem death and organ donation. Organ donation awareness is still lacking in our country compared to the West," said R. Venkatesh, the regional director (east) of Narayana Health.
Apollo Gleneagles has an unrevised list of 22 potential heart recipients, some of whom have had transplants elsewhere or died. "We are ready with all the infrastructure that is required, including infection control and ITU teams and heart-lung support equipment. What we still need are donors," said Sushan Mukhopadhyay, the director and head of cardiac surgery at the hospital.
Lack of coordination between private hospitals and the health department is often blamed for heart transplantation not taking off. "We need more awareness. In many cases, a donor's family is unwilling. At least in one case, we found a recipient apprehensive," said Aditi Kishore Sarkar, the additional director of health services and senior nodal officer for organ transplantation in Bengal.