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Updated: June 27, 2012 12:04 IST

A heart lung unit needed

Shastry V. Mallady
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The Hindu

Despite frequent power cuts which are hampering the surgery schedule and inadequate staff, the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery in the GRH is cruising through in open heart surgeries with good success rate.

The Government Rajaji Hospital here, which has a good track record in open heart surgeries, has been desperately looking for a heart lung machine.

Despite frequent power cuts which are hampering the surgery schedule and inadequate staff, the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery in the GRH is cruising through in open heart surgeries with good success rate.

However, in view of increasing volume of heart patients and more people coming for cardiac surgeries under Chief Minister’s health insurance scheme, this premier hospital is waiting for funds to purchase of heart lung machine which is a must for performing open heart surgery.

At the moment, the GRH has two heart lung machines of which only one purchased in 2005 is functioning (as per a letter sent to the Dean on June 22).

A request has been made to make necessary arrangements for purchase of one more machine which is very useful to save the lives of patients.

Hospital sources told The Hindu on Tuesday that the Dean, A. Edwin Joe, and the Head of Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery R. Raghunathan have been taking steps to get funds from Health Department/Directorate of Medical Education and strengthen the cardiac infrastructure, both equipment and manpower.

Statistics of open heart surgeries done in GRH ever since the cardiothoracic department was set up in 1984 reveal the increasing volume of heart patients. As per official records, 91 open heart surgeries were performed from January to May this year of which 72 were under the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme which was formally started here on January 11, 2012. Several proposals of the department of this hospital are still awaiting Government nod.

“The number of coronary heart diseases has gone up due to changing lifestyle and stress. As more and more patients have to undergo cardiac surgery, our department has asked for an additional cardiothoracic unit. We have two units now and if the third one comes with focus on paediatric cardiac surgeries, it will be of great help to people,” Dr. Raghunathan, who is a nodal officer of CM’s health insurance scheme, said when contacted.

Since open heart surgery cannot be done without heart lung machine, GRH authorities have approached for funds to buy it urgently, either an imported one which costs Rs.60 lakh or Indian made which costs Rs.20 lakh.

“Despite constraints here and there, we are having cardiac facilities on a par with corporate hospitals. The GRH’s cardiothoracic department has also asked for an Intra Aortic Balloon Pump which is needed to handle heart damage cases,” the department chief said.

Apart from open heart surgeries, the hospital is also doing more operations for valve replacement, closed heart surgeries, thoracic surgeries and CABG, besides many minor procedures.

While 23 open heart surgeries were done in 1984, the number went up to 142 in 2004 and 150 in 2007. Last year, 179 open heart surgeries were performed. This year, till May, 91 surgeries were done in the cardiothoracic department.

Heart surgeons in GRH have exuded confidence that they will soon get a standby heart lung machine since the Health Department is aware of the hospital’s pivotal role in spearheading the Chief Minister’s health insurance scheme.

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