Missed opportunity: PGI could have performed its first lung transplant

This happened even as the department of pulmonary medicine, and that too for the first time, started retrieving lungs from a brain-dead man on Saturday after his family consented to donate his organs. And there were recipients available too.

PGI
PGI had recently procured lung preservatives.(Shutterstock)

It was a day of missed opportunity at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).

On Saturday, the region’s premier health care institute could well have performed its first-ever lung transplant had it not been for the absence of a surgeon trained for the job.

And this happened even as the department of pulmonary medicine, and that too for the first time, started retrieving lungs from a brain-dead man on Saturday after his family had consented to donate his organs.

Sham Kumar (40) from Himachal Pradesh (HP) met with an accident on May 31 and was admitted to PGIMER the next day. He was declared brain-dead on Saturday.

Of the two trained surgeons the institute has for lung transplantation, one is on leave. Both have to perform the transplant as a team. The Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research had recently procured lung preservatives as well.

Organs taken to Mumbai

The lungs and heart of the patient were taken to a private hospital in Mumbai. Lung transplantation is usually performed when a patient suffering with end-stage lung disease fails to respond to all medical treatment.

A team from Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, flew to the city for retrieving organs to assist the department surgeons to retrieve the organs.

“Lungs and heart were shared with Fortis, Mumbai and other organs including kidneys, liver and cornea will be transplanted on patients undergoing treatment at PGIMER only,” said a PGIMER official.

Planning transplant since 2013

The institute has been planning to conduct lung transplant since 2013.

As many as 93 cadaveric donations have taken place since then but not a single lung transplant.

“These things take time. Surgeons need to be trained and lung preservation solutions are required. We are examining patients and there is a waiting list of lung recipients,” said a senior doctor from the department.

When asked whether the department has any trained surgeons, the doctor said, “We have two trained surgeons, but one of them is on leave and that is why we couldn’t perform the surgery.”

Lungs were retrieved three-four months ago but not for transplant.

Another senior doctor from the department said, “We are yet to streamline lung transplant protocols. We will start transplants soon.”
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