Expensive procedure performed on patient with end-stage liver disease

For over a year now, Selvaraj, 47, has been registered with the Government Stanley Hospital for a liver transplant. Though doctors at the hospital have been monitoring his condition for more than four years, it has steadily deteriorated.

Selvaraj, who hails from Salem district, has Hepatitis B. Within two years of contracting the infection, his condition deteriorated so much that drugs failed to help.

About a week ago, he was admitted to the gastroenterology department of the hospital.

It was evident that Selvaraj needed an immediate transplant, but as there was no liver available the best bet was to keep him alive until a liver could be obtained. Doctors decided that he could be kept alive with a portal stent until the transplant.

The hospital had not considered the option until then, as the equipment required for this surgery costs around Rs. 1.8 lakh, and the department had the authority to sanction only up to Rs. 1.2 lakh. They approached Dean S. Geethalakshmi, who sanctioned it, across the board, thanks to the funds available with her under the comprehensive health insurance scheme. The surgery could cost Rs. 5-6 lakh in a private hospital, doctors said.

Selvaraj underwent the procedure through which a stent was used to bypass the portal vein and send blood back into the hepatic vein.

His condition has now improved. “Such procedures are considered the preserve of the rich, but now they can be done even at a government hospital,” the dean said.

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