4 successful lung transplants boost city's reputation

4 successful lung transplants boost city's reputation

Picture for representation only. AFP

Private hospitals in the city recently performed four lung transplants, considered the rarest and the most complex of surgeries.

Lung transplants are performed rarely compared to the kidneys, liver or heart due to the low survival rate of the recipients, post surgery.

In 2017, a team of doctors at the Narayana Health Centre in the city carried out the first-ever bilateral lung transplant and it repeated the feat recently. Two more lung transplants have also taken place at the BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals.

Dr Julius Punnen, the heart and lung transplant surgeon at the Narayana Health Centre, pointed out that there is more to lung transplants than merely matching donors with the recipients. A well-trained team comprising of a pulmonologist, physiotherapist and other experts are needed to perform the surgery.

"In a lung transplant, unlike the heart, kidneys or liver, the organ comes directly in touch with the air in the atmosphere and it might become difficult for the patient to breathe. In other transplants, the organ needs to adjust to the new body," explained Dr Punnen.

Of the first 45 patients, who were among the first to undergo lung transplants in the US in the 1980s, only the 45th patient lived for more than a year-and-a-half, the surgeon said.

He said the lungs of septuagenarians and octogenarians in Canada that he had seen were pinker, which meant they breathed much cleaner air. In comparison, the lung of a 30-year-old Bengalurean would appear black, owing to the air quality, he said.

Dr Sandeep Attawar, program director and chair-cardiac surgery, thoracic organ transplant, said India is at least five decades behind the West in terms of transplantation, though things are going in the right direction.

"It is very important to inform the patient and the family about the complexities of the lung transplant and to address the anticipation and temperament. It is not just the procedure, but the care and follow-up to be carried out systematically, post transplant by the patient, for a longer survival," Dr Attawar said.

He said that after Chennai and Hyderabad, Bengaluru is developing the expertise to conduct a complex lung transplant procedure. 

Meanwhile, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals conducted another bilateral lung transplant on Saturday. It was a cadaver transplant of a 22-year-old woman declared brain dead following an accident in Mysuru's Chamundi Hills. Her family consented to harvest her lungs, kidneys and other organs.

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