With only two such units, storage of harvested tissues poses problems

The State’s cadaver transplant programme has enabled doctors in the city to harvest heart valves for patients in need of valve replacement.

What is lacking, however, is adequate storage facility for the harvested tissues.

Only two private hospitals — Frontier Lifeline Hospital and Madras Medical Mission (MMM) — operate full-fledged homograft valve banks for harvesting and cryopreservation of heart valves.

A proposal was made some years ago to start a valve bank at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (GH) but the project failed to take off.

GH implants mostly mechanical valves, according to a doctor.

“The metal valve is foreign to the body and we need to put patients on anti-coagulants for lifetime to prevent blood clots. We do not recommend it for young patients,” said K. Harshavardhan, professor and head, cardiothoracic surgery, SRM Medical College Hospital, and former head of department at GH.

For children with congenital heart diseases, homograft valve replacement is advised. It is also preferable as mechanical valves are expensive. “Over the past three years, we have implanted nearly 250 mechanical valves as human heart valves were unavailable,” he said.

According to K.M. Cherian, founder and CEO of Frontier Lifeline Hospital, the cadaver transplant programme has helped a great deal in harvesting valves.

“Even if there is no suitable recipient for the heart, we need not waste the organ but simply dissect the valves,” he said.

Ajit Mullasari, director of cardiology, MMM, said the valve bank is extremely important and mandatory for their paediatric cardiology programme.

“Homograft is required for reconstruction of the pulmonary valve. We see a large number of children in need of homograft,” he said.

A senior doctor at GH said the hospital would kickstart plans to set up a homograft valve bank soon.

“The two existing valve banks are willing to give the homograft to other hospitals, if they are interested in setting up the facility,” said J. Amalorpavanathan, convenor of the cadaver transplant programme that was introduced in 2008.

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