Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Fewer flight tickets leave many patients waiting long for organs

Chennai: The trouble in the skies after Jet Airways suspended operations is now beginning to give heartaches to transplant surgeons. At least five hearts and lungs went waste in the last one week as transplant teams could not find accommodation on flights for harvesting organs from hospitals outside the city and state.

Surgeons say transporting the heart by commercial airlines is feasible, safe and cost incurred is around 10% compared to private jets or ambulances. Commercial airlines were successful as a reasonable alternative particularly for heart and lung transplants where the shelf life is less than six to seven hours.
In the last week, doctors in Tamil Nadu have been receiving calls from national and regional transplant authorities on availability of organs. However, at least two city-based hospitals that had suitable recipients said they couldn’t pick up the organs as they didn’t get air tickets. “We could not get tickets because flights in some cases where we got tickets, were cancelled,” said Fortis Malar’s senior heart transplant surgeon Dr KR Balakrishnan.
For instance, on April 22, his hospital received a call on availability of organs in two hospitals --KIMS hospital in Thiruvananthapuramand Pune-based Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital. But doctors could not get there as there were no flights. A similar incident happened on April 29 as well, when the hospital received a call from a Bengaluru-based hospital. “We felt worse was when it happened in our own state,” he said. On April 24, Transtan informed doctors about availability of an organ at Coimbatore-based Rama Krishna Hospital. “There were no flight tickets but since we have patients who desperately needed hearts, we drove down. But by the time we reached, the family had withdrawn consent as they were getting delayed. While the family’s feelings are understandable, two healthy organs that could have saved patients had to be wasted,” he said.
07/05/19 Pushpa Narayan/Times of India