• A 35 years old woman from Sangrur in Punjab and a 22 years old brain dead boy from Moga became a part of history, as a team of doctors from the prestigious Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER, PGI for short) Chandigarh on Tuesday performed the first lung transplant surgery in the institute, claimed also to be the first in a public sector medical institute in the country.

A team of more than 20 doctors and supporting staff, comprising anesthetists, cardiovascular & thoracic surgeons, specialists from pulmonary medicine,  a neurosurgeon, residents doctors, transplant coordinators, technical and nursing staff were involved in the mammoth effort and complex surgery lasting over 12 hours.

PGI Director Prof. Jagat Ram with the team members who performed the first lung transplant surgery

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Gurkirat Kaur (name changed) from Sangrur, who was suffering from “interstitial lung disease” (end stage lung disease), received a new lease of life after brave parents of Bhola Singh, a 22 years old road accident victim who was declared brain dead at the PGI late on Monday night, agreed to donate his body, and alongwith other vital organs, his lungs were found to be fit for transplant.

Congratulating the entire team for a job well done, and taking a big leap forward in transplant surgery, PGI Director Prof Jagat Ram while interacting with media persons said “Despite cadaver donor organ transplants picking up at a consistent pace in different pockets of the country, lung transplants are still very uncommon. This is partly because the surgery is complex and technically demanding and also because there are not too many usable lungs. Even the recipients have to be selected very carefully for these procedures. So, it is really heartening that today, PGIMER not only surpasses the 27 number of cadaver organ donations of last year but also has to its credit the first lung transplant surgery among  public sector hospitals in India.”

The doctors supervising the patient declared that she was stable and perfectly fine, with her vital parameters within normal limits, under the circumstances, though she will be kept under close observation for several days to watch how she progresses. “Till now we can call it anatomical success, functional success will be judged in the coming days,” added Dr Jagat Ram.
“This being our first lung transplant surgery, we were extra cautious and put the patient on heart-lung machine, which, with practice, may not be necessary. Expectations from us were high and we were definitely under stress,” admitted Prof. Rana Sandip Singh, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon.
Said pulmonary medicine expert in the team, Prof. Ashutosh Nath Aggarwal, lung transplant surgeries are still very uncommon the world over. There would be very few institutes performing 100 lung transplants a year. In India, a handful of private medical institutes are known to have performed lung transplant surgeries in Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai but there is no authentic data to show how many such surgeries have been performed by them. After our first experience, we plan to go ahead with other suitable cases as and when they present before us,” he added.
Though PGI claimed that in this lung transplant it is financially supporting the recipient, Prof. Ashutosh said a normal procedure would cost a patient anything between Rs. 6-10 lakh in a reputed government hospital. This could be higher in case of other complications with the patient,” he added.
 
Among the team members were anesthetists Prof. G. D. Puri and Prof. Virendra K. Arya, cardiovascular & thoracic surgeons Prof. Rana Sandip Singh and Dr. Harkant Singh Baryah supervised by Prof. T. Shyam K. Singh, and specialists from pulmonary medicine Prof. Ashutosh Nath Aggarwal and Dr. K.T. Prasad, and neurosurgeon Prof. Rajesh Chhabra.

Detailing the case history, Prof. D. Behera, Head, Dept. of Pulmonary Medicine, said, “The Director PGI took a keen interest and had called a meeting of all the stakeholders to fast track the process of lung transplant. For over one year, we have been closely monitoring the recipient. But today we could leverage the opportunity presented to us by the kind consent of the donor family. The entire team involved in the process has made it happen. However, Dr. Ashutosh Nath Aggarwal and Dr. K.T. Prasad deserve a special mention for their proactive efforts.”