A lifeline that came on a 40-minute flight

A helicopter carrying a heart harvested from a woman from Thiruvananthapuram arrives in Kochi to be transplanted to a 49-year-old woman.

A helicopter carrying a heart harvested from a woman from Thiruvananthapuram arrives in Kochi to be transplanted to a 49-year-old woman.  

Heart harvested from a brain-dead woman transplanted into 49-year-old in Kochi

The police transported a heart harvested from a brain-dead woman in Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi in a government-rented helicopter that was flown for its first mission as an air ambulance on Saturday.

The heart was transplanted into Lina Shibu, a 49-year-old woman from Kothamangalam, who had been diagnosed with ischemic cardiomyopathy and under treatment at Lisie Hospital in Kochi for the past three months.

The district administration of Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam joined hands soon after Chempazhanthy native Laly Gopakumar’s death on Friday and her family expressing their desire to donate her organs.

Laly, 50, teacher at Poundkadavu Government Lower Primary School, near Kazhakuttam, died at KIMS Hospital after she suffered cerebral aneurysm that led to a fatal haemorrhagic stroke.

During her final days, she had apparently conveyed her wish to donate her organs.


Soon, officials of the Kerala Network for Organ Sharing (KNOS), the nodal agency coordinating State government’s deceased donor organ donation programme (Mrithasanjeevani), took steps to harvest her heart, kidneys, and corneas.

The organs were allotted for transplantation in patients admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, KIMS Hospital, and Lisie Hospital, Kochi.

A medical team of Lisie Hospital, led by cardiac surgeon Jose Chacko Periapuram, came to Thiruvananthapuram by road in the morning and the heart was taken to the Thiruvananthapuram airport around 2.45 p.m., with the police demarcating a green corridor.

The helicopter arrived at the helipad of Hotel Grand Hyatt in Kochi at 3.45 p.m. The police ensured a green corridor from the helipad to the hospital, helping the team to cover the 5-km in five minutes. The surgery began at 4 p.m.

“The heart has begun to beat without mechanical help at 8 p.m., which shows that the first two phases of the surgery are a success. The procedure will continue into the night,” said a spokesman of Lisie Hospital.

Arranging the flight

The government arranged the helicopter after hospital director Fr. Paul Karedan took up the matter with former MP P. Rajeev. He spoke to the Chief Minister, who directed the State Police Chief to arrange the service, the spokesperson said. The State government had invited the Opposition’s wrath after it hired the AS 365 Dauphin N3, medium twin-engine 11-seater helicopter from Pawan Hans Ltd. amid financial crunch. The helicopter was rented for ₹1.44 crore for 20 hours of flight time a month.

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Printable version | Jul 16, 2020 11:33:26 PM |

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