Apollo Hospital in Chennai, southern India has successfully transplanted the heart of a sixty-five-year-old US citizen, reports said.
The US native Ronald Lemmer was suffering from severe heart disease and came to India with a history of bypass surgery, an angioplasty with coronary stents and a pacemaker.
When consulted in US hospitals, Lemmer was told that he had a mortality chance of 80 per cent.
“The US doctors said that my husband would not survive if operated in India. We checked with an Indian doctor who is our friend there. He assured us about the safety and we came to India,” Shelly Lemmer told reporters.
“In the US there is a long waiting list of recipients for heart transplant,” Lemmer said.
The couple came to India in May and Lemmer was admitted to Apollo Hospital.
Lemmer is the first American and the oldest person to undergo a heart transplant in India.
“We were in discussion with the American couple since March this year. They came here in May and Lemmer was operated upon in July,” senior cardiothoracic surgeon Paul Ramesh said.
Apart from his complicated previous bypass surgery, angioplasty with coronary stents and a pacemaker, the major challenge was that since the transplant was an inter-racial the human leucocyte antigen (HLA) has to match.
“The HLA will be an exact match only between identical twins. Between siblings it would slightly differ. The difference will be high between two different races,” Ramesh added.
Lemmer, however, was fortunate enough to get the heart of a 36-year-old man who was declared brain dead after a road accident.
All the necessary compatibility tests such as height, weight, blood and others were done and permission from the Transplant Coordination Committee was obtained to carry out the operation.
Now after the successful transplant Lemmer is able to walk around like a normal person and is planning to return to the US August 10.
“The success of a transplant operation is determined not only by increasing the longevity of the patient but also in improvement in the quality of life he leads post operation,” Ramesh said.
Lemmer’s is 1oth heart transplant done by Apollo Hospitals, Chennai.
Only 100 heart transplants have been done in India in the last 15 years. In India heart transplants are done only in cities like Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Cochin and Bangalore.
A heart transplant operation could cost anything between Rs 800,000 to Rs 1 million.