A cardiac feat: KMCH, Coimbatore

Asia’s first case of heterotopic heart transplant was done at cardiac at KMCH, Coimbatore

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A resident of Kerala whose heart functioning level was only 10% was admitted at KMCH, Coimbatore, for a complicated surgery. He came out with  two beating hearts.  Yes, this might seem like science fiction to many but  Vignesh (name changed), a 45-year-old man, became the first person in Asia to live with two beating hearts. While one was his own, the other was taken from a woman. Dr Prasanth Vaijyanath, consultant cardio thoracic  surgeon, Dr Thomas Alexander, Dr Suresh Kumar and Dr Vivek Path Team have successfully conducted Asia’s first heterotopic heart plantation on beating heart using the direct pulmonary artery anastomosis technique. Vignesh had to undergo this transplant procedure because of the high lung pressure, which did not enable him to undergo a normal heart transplant. Calling it as a ‘hard and demanding surgery’, the doctor stated that the patient’s own heart (native heart) was only 10% operative. The doctor also said that he felt it was miracle when the patient received the heart of a female donor which was smaller in size and was a perfect fit in the cavity.

The patient during the press meet.

Dr Prasanth added that this operation is also genetically fascinating because now the man will not only have the XY chromosome that all men have, but also will have the XX chromosome of a woman within him. Explaining the functioning of the two hearts, the doctor said, “There are five connections between the two hearts." Two connections are meant to take in the pure blood while three are to take the impure blood out. The two connections placed between the left atriums of the two hearts are what ensure that blood can be shared. On the right-hand side, doctors have connected the superior vena cava, inferior vena cava and the pulmonary artery. Connecting them with the beating heart was the hardest task and that makes this operation very challenging. While most of doctors globally connected the pulmonary arteries of the two hearts using an artificial connector, but in  Vignesh’s case, the arteries have been connected directly to the beating heart by KMCH. The doctor also revealed that the weight, blood group and the age of the donor was similar to that of the recipient, stating that such details are often compared and analysed before any heart transplant is done. It is a fact that only four centres in the world have the facilities and experts to perform this transplant. So, the doctors proudly declared that this was Asia’s first case of heterotopic heart transplant which has been done at the cardiac department of KMCH, Coimbatore.