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In Chennai traffic, a 'Green Corridor' for a human heart saves patient's life

Delays due to inefficiencies on the part of the administration or bureaucracy have become such common news that incidents of their smooth working are more surprising than the former.

Representational image. Agencies

Representational image. Agencies

In a heart-warming incident, the life of a patient suffering from a threatening heart disease was saved in Chennai when a medical team transported a donor's heart to a hospital via a specially created route in less than 14 minutes during rush hour. Normally, it would take 45 minutes for the journey.

Hvovi Minocherchomi, a 21-year-old BCom student from Mumbai, suffering from swelling of the heart (dilated cardiomyopathy), was admitted to the Fortis Malar Hospital in Adyar, Chennai. According to a report in The Times of India, when a matching donor heart was found in the Government general hospital located 12 km away, a medical team transported the heart to the Fortis hospital in less than 14 minutes by creating a 'green corridor', that is, a route without any red lights.

A human heart can be preserved for up to 4 hours, but the chances of the recipient's survival are higher if transplant takes place early. The report explained that the Government hospital doctors informed their Fortis counterparts about the availability of the heart from a brain-dead patient at 5:45 am. The situation was also explained to the police.

Immediately, additional commissioner of police (traffic) Karunasagar began co-ordinating the creation of the green corridor. C Kathir was selected as the ambulance driver.

By afternoon, deputy commissioner Sivanandan had posted 26 officers at 12 intersections and the police were ready with the corridor, most of it along the Beach Road and Santhome High Road, two of the busiest roads in Chennai.

The report stated that the loading of the heart into the ambulance began at 6:39 pm and the ambulance left the Government hospital at 6:44 pm. "As it passed each signal - touching 100 kmph at times - a pilot radioed in the location to the control room as also the police teams along the corridor. It reached Fortis at 6:57 pm," said the report.

"As soon as the heart was brought, the transplant began. By 10.15 pm, the heart was beating in the patient's chest," Dr Suresh Rao, chief anesthetist at Fortis hospital, is quoted as saying in the report.

The report added that the heart was harvested from a 27-year-old man who, ironically, had died in a traffic accident. Luckily, the recipient's and donor's blood group and body weight matched, making the transplant possible.

Another report in The Times of India said that Hvovi had been suffering from the disease for four years. "(She) had decided to go to the US for a transplant. But doctors advised her against it as the waiting period for a heart there was two years and she had just three months before things might turn worse," said the report.

Dilated cardiomyopathy makes the heart "so weak and enlarged that the supply of blood to the lungs, liver and other organs is affected. With her heart's pumping efficiency dropping from 60% to 10-15%, and several parts of body swelling up, Hvovi was barely able to walk, and was facing breathlessness," according to a report in DNA.

The report in The Times of India added that the heart surgery was led by Dr KR Balakrishnan. "The reason behind creating a green corridor was to transport the heart as fast as possible so the outcome of the surgery would be better. The heart has a better potential when transplanted faster," he said in the report.

Chennai is already ahead of other cities in heart transplants. In fact, the report in DNA said Hvovi was probably the first person in Maharashtra to have undergone a heart transplant.

"According to the Maharashtra health services department, even 18 years after seven hospitals in the city were granted permission to conduct heart transplant operation, not a single such surgery has been performed in Mumbai," said the report.