3rd of August is an important day in the calendar of medical achievements in India.

In India, for the first time ,on 3rd August 1994 Prof P Venugopal conducted Heart Transplantation successfully at AllMS, Delhi.  He was honored by Government of India by confirming PADMA SRI for his contribution to the medical field.   It took 27 years for doing heart transplantation in India after the first one done in the world in 1967

Dr P Venugopal

Dr P Venugopal

Miss Denise Darvall met with an accident and confirmed to be brain dead, Heart was taken from her and was transplanted to Mr.  Louis Washkansky on 3rd December 1967 by Dr Christiaan Neethling Barnard at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa  successfully.  This is the first successful heart transplantation in the world.

Dr Christiaan Neethling Barnard

Dr Christiaan Neethling Barnard

In our state of Andhra Pradesh, first successful Heart transplantation was done by Dr Alla Gopala Krishna Gokhale on Feb 6th 2004 at Global Hospital Hyderabad to Mr. Ramesh. So far he has performed 8 heart transplantations. Further to this Dr Gopala Krishna Gokhale also performed Single Lung Transplantation in the state first time to Mrs. Archana Segde on 9th of September 2012 successfully.

Dr Alla Gopala Krishna Gokhale

Dr Alla Gopala Krishna Gokhale

Generally, Heart or Lung Transplantation can be done to the patient up to the age of 65 years. Dr Gokhale did Heart Transplantation to Mr. Rama Chander Rao, 69 years old, on Feb. 23rd 2012.  He is the oldest person who underwent heart transplantation in India so far.

Why Are Heart Transplants Performed?

A heart transplant is considered when a patient has  heart failure that is so severe that it does not respond to all other therapies, but the person’s health is otherwise good. Heart Failure does not mean that heart has stopped working or is about to stop working. Heart Failure is a condition in which the heart becomes so weak that it has trouble pumping a normal amount of blood carrying enough oxygen and nutrients to meet the body’s needs. While the word ‘failure’ sounds alarming as it implies that the heart has suddenly stopped working, the medical term actually describes a chronic syndrome that typically develops slowly.

The leading reasons why people have heart failure and  receive heart transplants are:

  • Dilated Cardio Myopathy
  • Severe coronary artery disease with scarred heart tissue from a heart attack
  • Birth defects of the heart

It is important to note that there are many new innovations for the treatment of heart failure, from new drugs to pacemakers and new surgical therapies. When determining your treatment options, it is important to be evaluated by a doctor who specializes in heart failure.

People who have advanced (end stage) heart failure, but are otherwise healthy, may be considered for a heart transplant.

The following basic questions should be considered by doctor, and your family to determine if a heart transplant is right for you:

–          Have all other therapies been tried or excluded?

–          Are you in generally good health other than the heart or heart and lung disease?

–          Can you adhere to the lifestyle changes, including complex drug treatments and frequent exams, required after a transplant?

–          Do you have good financial and family support?

–          Are you likely to die without the transplant?

 Schematic of a transplanted heart with native Lungs and the Great  vessels.

Schematic of a transplanted heart with native Lungs and the Great vessels.

In confirmation of the above Dr Alla Gopala Krishna Gokhale says that: Transplantation in general, is highest complicated surgery which includes a team of surgeons, anesthetists and, perfusionists, nursing staff and laboratory staff of more than 50 people working together.  They will be given only 4 hours time from harvesting of heart from donor to stitching the heart to recipient for re-functioning of organ.  Both donor and recipient to be kept in different operation theaters. If, the donor is in the other hospital ,the transport from that hospital and traffic problems, all need to be taken care, often with the help of traffic police. Every step to be attended on war footing like Military Operation.

In the world, around 3500 heart transplantations are performed every year, in which 2 – 3 thousands are at America.  In India till now around 130 – 150 heart transplantations took place.  This shows the lack of awareness of heart transplantation, which require wide publicity.  We have good facilities in Hyderabad for conducting the Heart Transplantation and Lung Transplantation surgeries.  Now the Govt. of Andhra Pradesh / Telangana has organized Jeevandan program to facilitate the organ donation and streamlined the rules of organ donation and sharing with its, office at Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences. Hyderabad.  A wide range of awareness programs to be conducted.

If anyone needs more information, they can contact the author on email:

Dr Gokhale CT Associates    

Division of Cardiothoracic, Transplant and Minimal Access Surgery