He owes it to a heart from Gujarat

HYDERABAD, JULY 24. A Gujarati heart is beating inside a Telugu man. Now, 43-year-old M. Venkateswara Rao is enjoying a new lease of life, thanks to a timely donation of the organ and its successful transplant carried out by a team of cardiac surgeons at the CARE Hospital in the city.

After weathering the critical six-week period following the surgery conducted on June 2, a cheerful-looking Rao, a soft drinks vendor from Pengolanu village in Krishna district, said, "Earlier I had difficulty even in breathing and walking. Now, I have no such problems. I'll go back to my village and sell soft drinks."

He had a heart attack on October 25, 2003 in his village, following which he frequently suffered bouts of breathlessness and faced difficulty in walking and eating. He was treated at Vijayawada and later brought to the CARE Hospital, where the doctors ruled that heart transplant was his "only hope for survival."

SOS to Porbander

On learning that Dhula Bhai, a 54-year-old lorry driver from Porbander, who met with an accident was "brain-dead," the CARE doctors contacted his relatives and sought the donation of his heart. They agreed and the donor's four brothers travelled for 36 hours by road to reach Hyderabad and be present at the time of the transplant. "They wanted to see the recipient and went back satisfied," said Dr. Prasada Rao at a news conference on Saturday, hours before Rao was discharged from the hospital.

In fact, the magnanimity of the brothers benefited two other people as the deceased lorry driver's kidneys too were donated.

Venkateswara Rao's sister, Annapurna, said, "We never thought he would live. We want to call the donor's family and thank them. But we can't speak Hindi and they don't understand Telugu".

Hospital's gesture

Dr. Prasada Rao and the other specialists said that this was the first heart transplant carried out at CARE Hospital, Nampally. They said the hospital had met the entire cost of the surgery -- more than Rs. 8 lakhs- from the funds of CARE Hospital and CARE Foundation.

They said the patient could lead an "almost normal life" but would have to be on medicines for the rest of his life.

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