Kochi

When a gut feeling created history

Jose Chacko Periappuram receives the Padma Shri from the then President Pratibha Patil in 2011. It was the cardiothoracic surgeon's intuition to airlift the organ that paved the way for the historic heart transplantation. File photo

Jose Chacko Periappuram receives the Padma Shri from the then President Pratibha Patil in 2011. It was the cardiothoracic surgeon's intuition to airlift the organ that paved the way for the historic heart transplantation. File photo  

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The historic heart transplantation that was conducted at a city hospital on Friday, and now being hailed as the first-of-its-kind in the medical history of the State, would not have happened but for the gut feeling of Jose Chacko Periappuram, the acclaimed cardio-thoracic surgeon.

He had initially turned down the offer of a heart donor by the Kerala Network for Organ Sharing on Thursday afternoon. “Conducting a complex heart transplantation surgery on the back of a more than 10-hour-long journey by road between Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi was not humanly possible,” Dr. Periappuram told The Hindu .

But then even as he was performing a bypass surgery later in the day he had the intuition to try airlifting of the organ. The idea was enthusiastically lapped up by fellow doctors at a meeting convened immediately after that surgery around 4 p.m.

He shared the idea with Hibi Eden, MLA, who immediately passed it on to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Mr. Eden rang the doctor back after half an hour to pass on a mobile number on which Mr. Chandy would be available. Dr. Periappuram then briefed the Chief Minister, who, in turn, authorised District Collector M.G. Rajamanickam to set the plan in motion. The Collector contacted the Southern Naval Command and Dr. Periappuram got in touch with Naval authorities the same night. As luck would have it, the two rounds of Apnoea test to confirm that the donor was brain dead was postponed to 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday, giving additional time to pull off the plan.

The initial plan to deploy a helicopter was changed owing to a combination of factors ranging from limited seating capacity, susceptibility to weather fluctuations and greater flying time. Eventually a Dornier aircraft was pressed into service in which Dr. Periappuram and fellow doctors flew out from Kochi at around 1.30 p.m. on Friday and reached Thiruvananthapuram in 35 minutes. “The retrieval of the heart took about one-and-a-half hours since we had to perform an angiogram,” the doctor said. They landed at the Naval airport in Kochi at 7.35 p.m., and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 11:51:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/when-a-gut-feeling-created-history/article7466136.ece

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