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A Brief History of Heart Transplantation in India By Dr Gokhale.

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Heart, the most important muscular organ in humans is located in the middle of the chest slightly to left side. Heart pumps blood through blood vessels (a network of arteries and veins referred as cardiovascular system) to the entire body. Blood supplies oxygen and nutrients to the whole body and removes the metabolic wastage. The normal cycle of blood flow is body to heart, heart to lungs, lungs to heart, and heart to body.

A healthy heart beats each day about 100,000 times and pumps 23,000 litres (5,000 gallons) of blood around your body. Each time heart pumps out blood, it pumps out 60-70% of blood in it. This is called "Ejection Fraction (EF)". Sometimes heart muscle gets damaged for various reasons and ejection fraction drops- that means it is pumping out less amount of blood. This results in "Heart Failure"- in other words, heart is not pumping out enough blood to meet the needs of the body.

The commonest cause for heart failure is- heart attack. When the flow of oxygen rich blood supply suddenly gets blocked to a section of heart muscle, heart cannot get oxygen. If the blood flow does not get restored, the part of heart muscle will die which is called as Heart Attack.Heart Attack was the leading cause of death in the western countries earlier, but it has also apparently become the top most reason for growing death rate in India. Among both Men and Women in India, heart diseases range from 1.3 to 4.6 million, with an annual incidence of 491,600 to 1.8 million according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) report related to cardiovascular disease scenario in India. Symptoms of heart attack are Anxiety, Chest Discomfort & Pain, Cough, Dizziness, Fatigue, Nausea or Lack of Appetite, Pain in upper parts of the body, Rapid or Irregular Pulse, Shortness of Breath, Sweating, Swelling and Weakness.

The other causes of heart failure include-heart valve problems, alcohol, viral infections, post-partum cardiomyopathy. In about 40% of cases, we do not know the reason and they are called "Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)". Symptoms of heart failure include – breathing difficulty on exertion, swelling of feet, palpitations.

With growing incidences of heart failures as leading cause to deaths, there have been tremendous researches and advancements in the medical treatments related to heart surgeries. Heart Transplantation in India focusses on prolonging life with good quality for these patients with advanced heart failure.

Heart transplantation, as a process is considered as a life-saving treatment to recover the quality of life of patient and not a cure for heart disease. A heart transplant in India or a cardiac transplant in India is a surgical process that is performed on patients, who are critical and not responding to drugs..

Dr. VenugopalIndian Parliament has passed Organ Transplant Bill in 1994 to legalize organ transplants in India. Dr. Venugopal, a pioneer in heart transplantation surgery in India, performed the first successful heart transplant in India on 3 August 1994. He also did the first implantation of left ventricular assist device that lasted for more than 90 days. He was instrumental in setting up the Advanced Centre for Stem Cell Research at AIIMS.

K. M. CherianK. M. Cherian, a leading Indian heart surgeon was one of the first heart transplant surgeons in India who performed first coronary artery bypass surgery in India in 1975. He has pioneered new treatments, founded new hospitals and was also recognized worldwide for his successful heart transplantation in India - first heart transplant in south India, first infant cardiac surgery and the first heart and lung transplant in 1999. He is the founder and chairman of Frontier Lifeline in Chennai, and Dr. K M Cherian Heart Foundation.

Dr. A.G.K.Gokhale
Chief Cardiothoracic, Transplant
and Minimal Access Surgeon
Heart Transplantation in South India has tremendously taken a momentum with Dr. A.G.K.Gokhale and his team performing successful heart transplant in the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Dr Gokhale performed the first heart transplantation in Andhra Pradesh at Global Hospitals, Hyderabad on 6th of February 2004. A 27 year old mason named Ramesh was suffering from an end-stage heart failure, was treated with a successful heart transplant surgery.

Dr A.G.K.Gokhale is presently Chief Cardiothoracic, Transplant and Minimal Access Surgeon at Apollo Hospitals, who has performed successful heart transplantation on Mrs. Venkata Ramya, a 25-year old young mother from Pitthapuram, East Godavari district taking the medical facilities in A.P. one step forward. Apollo Hospitals is one of best heart transplants hospitals in India, where world-class facilities for both lung and heart transplantations are available underone roof.

Dr Gokhale has performed 34 heart transplantations and is the driving force for heart transplantation in Hyderabad. He is also credited for doing heart transplant successfully on a 69 year old man- oldest Indian with successful heart transplant. He is presently heading heart and lung transplant programme at Apollo hospitals, Secunderabad. Dr. Alla Gopala Krishna Gokhale happens to be the first heart surgeon in South India who did both heart transplants and single lung transplants successfully.