Surgeons at Global Health City have performed a minimally-invasive lung transplant on a 60-year-old patient, who has been suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis for the last 11 years.

The lung transplant was done through a seven-inch-long incision, which is nearly one-third the length used in the conventional procedure, doctors said.

Raja Babu Shah, an Indian-origin businessman residing in Nepal, had severe breathlessness and had required oxygen supply fulltime for the last four years. He was confined to his bed and a wheelchair.

In idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the cause for which is not known, the lung becomes stiff and does not expand well. There are poor oxygen levels in the blood, said Vijil Rahulan, head of the department, respiratory medicine and senior consultant pulmonologist, Global Health City.

“The fibrosis may be a reaction to an infection. It damages the lungs and causes severe breathlessness. It has poor response to medical management. The patient was unable to carry out normal activities,” Dr. Rahulan told reporters on Friday.

Mr. Babu Shah’s family brought him to the hospital one year ago. He was registered with the State’s Cadaver Transplantation Programme in July this year.

On November 24, he received a lung from a 28-year-old woman, who was declared brain dead at Christian Medical College, Vellore. The lung was transported to Global Health City in 105 minutes.

“We performed the minimally-invasive surgery, anterior-axillary thoracotomy, with an incision seven inches long just below the nipple. Usually, we open the chest in between the ribs and make a cut for nearly 21 inches till right behind the spine. We removed the diseased right lung and transplanted the donor lung. The left lung was reasonably good,” explained Jnanesh Thacker, senior consultant, cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon.

The survival rate for patients undergoing lung transplants is 60 per cent for five years and 40 per cent for 10 years, he said.

With the minimally-invasive procedure, there is less pain, early recovery and a shorter hospital stay. “Mr. Shah was taken off the ventilator on the second day after the surgery,” Dr. Thacker said. The surgery cost Rs. 20 lakh.

K. Ravindranath, chairman and managing director, Global Hospitals Group, said this was the tenth lung transplant performed at the hospital.

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