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Apollo Hospitals, Chennai has successfully performed two Double Lung Transplants during the COVID-19 situation.

09 Oct 2020

tals Group demonstrated its leadership in the field of organ transplants with the announcement of the first Double Lung Transplant during the COVID pandemic in India. The patient was a 39-year-old whose lung condition deteriorated significantly in the months before the transplant when the country was in lockdown due to the pandemic. He was put on ECMO or Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation to support his heart and lungs till donor lungs were available. The double lung transplant surgery took place successfully on July 29, 2020 at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, and after a robust recovery, the transplant recipient was discharged on August 27, 2020.

Another patient was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease that caused fibrosis in the lungs. He was diagnosed in January and arrived at the hospital in June. His wife said that her husband’s oxygen requirement rose from a mere few litres to 17 litres. He was put on ECMO support for 46 days. On September 2, 2020 he underwent a lung transplant and would be discharged shortly, said Dr. K. Madhan Kumar, Senior Consultant, Heart-Lung Transplant Surgeon.

Dr. T Sunder, Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Heart and Lung Transplant Surgeon at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai said, “Performing a transplant surgery during a pandemic presents many medical and logistic challenges to ensure safety of recipients, family members and healthcare personnel. Safety was ensured via strict protocols that mandates all transplant patients to be received and managed only in dedicated areas that do not have any COVID patients. The staff looking after them are assigned to only the transplant patients and all are checked for COVID status. Post-operatively, all parameters of the recipients are passed on to the treating doctors in real time via encrypted software and only if a physical examination is mandated, is access to a patient given. The dedicated post-operative transplant care team does not cross over and examine other patients further ensuring safety. Limiting physical contact with the recipient has been a feature of our transplant team since the inception of Apollo Hospitals’ transplant program. This has helped us in maintaining excellent long term outcomes with low infection rates.”

The number of patients waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant far exceeds the number of available donor organs, and the need for organ transplants is increasing. When the patient condition deteriorates while waiting for a donor organ, ECMO or Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation comes to the rescue. Similar to the heart-lung bypass machine used in open-heart surgery, the ECMO machine pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, giving rest to the heart and lungs. ECMO acts as a bridge to recovery and bridge to transplant.

Dr. Madan Kumar K, Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Heart and Lung Transplant Surgeon, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai and a member of the transplant team said, “Apart from using ECMO as a bridge to recovery as well as a bridge to lung transplants in many cases, with a 75% success rate, we also have on record the patient who spent the longest time on ECMO - 46 days - prior to a successful lung transplant. Apollo Hospitals was one of the early pioneers in the use of ECMO beginning as early as 2010, and we have used it in a wide array of situations such as poisoning, trauma, and infections like H1N1. ECMO is also helping to save lives of patients with COVID -19 who have severe acute respiratory distress syndrome as lungs are badly affected, where it takes over the function of the heart and lungs and allows those organs to rest and recover.”

Dr. Paul Ramesh Thangaraj, Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Heart and Lung Transplant Surgeon at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai said, “Organ transplants are among the most challenging, but rewarding procedures. Transplants remove diseased organs and replace them with healthy ones to extend the lifespan of patients suffering from end-stage conditions, giving them a second chance to live their life fully. Apollo Hospitals, Chennai has the capabilities and infrastructure to perform all Solid Organ Transplantations including Liver, Kidney, Heart, Lungs, Pancreas, and Intestine, as well as combined transplants such as Heart-Lungs, Kidney-Pancreas, and other multi-organ transplants. Our Transplant centres are equipped with sophisticated technology to ensure the best possible infrastructure for our patients. Our Organ Transplant Surgeons and allied teams work with the organ donor in case of a living donor, and recipient before, during and after surgery to ensure the greatest likelihood of superior results. The successful double lung transplant during the COVID period is a testament to our excellence and expertise built over the past decades.”

Dr. Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “Our transplant program has come a long way since its inception in 1995. This double lung transplant during COVID times is an exemplary achievement and has only been possible due to our relentless focus on adopting the latest medical advances and technology to reinforce our leadership position in the healthcare space. Our transplant journey has seen numerous milestones and firsts that are testament to our continuing efforts to be a leader in organ transplant surgery, not just in India but globally. From the first successful paediatric liver transplant, first successful adult cadaveric transplant, first successful liver transplant for acute liver failure, first combined liver-kidney and other simultaneous multi-organ transplants, it is a long list! Our transplant team has led the way and laid down benchmarks for organ transplants in India over the years, and I am sure that they will continue to do so going forward. I am proud to say that today with over 90% success rates for multiple transplants in India, the Apollo Hospitals organ transplant center is a beacon of quality and hope for patients not just from India, but from across the world.”

Ms. Preetha Reddy, Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “The successful double lung transplant during the COVID pandemic is a feather in our transplant program’s cap. Since its inception, our organ transplant programme has evolved and expanded, building on the Apollo Group’s talent and infrastructure, to facilitate new locations while continuing to deliver clinical expertise employing state-of-the-art technology. The successful transplant and recovery also brings into focus our pioneering success in the use of ECMO to support the heart and lungs until transplant or recovery. The confidence to have performed the transplant during the pandemic came from the highest standards of excellence in Infection Control Protocols and best practices that we follow. Today, the Apollo Hospitals group has the largest solid organ transplant programme in India with over 3500 transplants performed to date with success rates comparable to the best in the world.”

Ms. Suneeta Reddy, Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “As a pioneer, Apollo Hospitals has continued to invest in the best of technology to support our organ transplant program. There are nearly 2 million people on the organ transplant waiting list around the world. The demand for organs is increasing with advances in transplant medicine leading to successful outcomes for patients with end-stage disease and giving them the gift of life. As awareness about donation grows and researchers find ways of improving the viability of organs, we are also keeping a close eye on the future where research is taking place in areas such as building organs using bio-printing, fighting rejection rates, and technologies to repair and replace cells and tissues, with a long term horizon. Today, we follow gold standards in organ transplantation to ensure results that are among the best in world.”

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