For the First Time in India – Donor Heart Transported by Helicopter

A 45-year-old man was declared brain-dead in a private hospital, Vellore. The patient’s family came forward to donate his organs so that others can benefit. Fortis Malar’s organ transplant coordinator, Sathish received an alert about this and his team started with the paper-work and logistics arrangements immediately.

The medical team had given a 3-hour window, from the moment the organ is removed from the donor and transplanted to the recipient. However, the rains have damaged the roads badly in various sections in the 140 kms Chennai – Vellore route and transporting the harvested heart by road would be a gamble. The transplant team immediately thought of an alternative plan to bring the heart using helicopter, which will save considerable amount of time.

Transporting an organ using a helicopter, however simple the plan sounds, requires meticulous planning and innumerable clearances from several Government and private bodies, which include District Collectorates, Police departments, Fire and Rescue departments, Revenue Departments, PWD departments and the Aviation department which has to provide pin-point details including the take-off and landing co-ordinates. This mammoth task has been accomplished by the careful ground work and perseverance of the transplant co-ordination team of Fortis Malar.

Dr. Muralikrishna did the initial assessment of the donor’s heart and the organ was harvested by Dr Srinath. It left the Vellore private hospital at 3:38 pm and reached the Vellore Institute of Technology campus, from where it was air-lifted at 3:52 pm. The chopper arrived at Chennai airport at 4:25 pm and the harvested heart reached Fortis Malar hospital at 4:35 pm via ambulance. The senior transplant surgeon Dr K R Balakrishnan and his team successfully transplanted the heart to a needy patient.