A 42-year-old city-based banker, who had been suffering from heart problems for the past two years, has had a pump, worth at least US $100,000, installed.
But, doctors cannot feel his pulse while he is on the heartware ventricular assist device (HVAD) though it has the capacity to pump 10 litres of blood per minute.
C. Sathish Kumar received the implant a month ago after he collapsed at the wheel of his car one Sunday evening while driving home after a dinner outing with his family. A lab technician from Fortis Malar Hospital who passed by heard the family’s cry for help and revived him with on-the-spot cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Mr. Kumar was immediately shifted to a hospital, where he was continually given electric shocks to revive his heart. Suffering from arrhythmia, he received 150 shocks to stabilise his heart.
Mr. Kumar was diagnosed with end-stage heart failure, medically referred to as dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition due to which the heart’s main chambers fail to pump blood. Doctors knew he needed a heart transplant immediately but even in Chennai, where transplants have become more common, he would have had to wait for at least three months.
Doctors offered him a solution — a golf-ball sized pump that would take over the heart’s function. Mr. Kumar was informed he could continue on the implant for at least 10 years just as others with the implant had, elsewhere in the world.
Post-surgery, the recovery was quick. Within 16 hours he was off the ventilator and within a week he was out of the ICU.
Mr. Kumar’s wife, Suganthi, recalls her husband “looking energetic within days of surgery.” He is now expected to get back to work in October.
K.R. Balakrishnan, head of cardiac sciences, said, “We have sent his heart tissues for biopsy and are awaiting the results. He is only 42 years old and we cannot guarantee the implant will last another 40 years as it has not been around that long. We think there is a 50 per cent of his (biological) heart reviving its function. If that happens, the implant can be removed.”
According to K.G. Suresh Rao, chief of cardiac anaesthesia and critical care, the device is the smallest available in the world and fits within the space around the heart. “Earlier, some patients have received an LVAD – the left ventricular assist device. But HVAD is the latest in the series,” Dr. Rao said.
Mr. Kumar will, however, be on life-long anti-coagulation drugs. He will also be on medication to control his blood pressure. But he can lead a normal life and continue doing rigorous exercises if he wishes, doctors said.