Upon arrival, she was immediately put on ECMO support and shifted to the ICU with the chest open. Thankfully, the child woke up 48 hours later, as doctors chalked out further course of action. They considered implanting an artificial pump, but in a few days a donor heart from a 2-year-old brain dead boy from Mumbai was available. There was a catch. The donor heart’s blood group was different.
However doctors accepted the heart despite the incompatibility of blood groups as ABO-incompatible heart transplants can only be performed on babies and small children since the immune system is immature and there is very little chance of organ rejection.
The child transplanted with the new heart was put on ECMO support for several days after surgery for the heart to completely recover. On the 22nd of August 2023, doctors shared the good news that it was a successful completion of an incompatible pediatric heart transplant, crossing the blood group barrier. Dr K R Balakrishnan, Director, Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support, MGM Healthcare said “This case exemplifies the true potential of medical science when coupled with determination and a collaborative spirit. Witnessing this young child’s recovery reaffirms our commitment to pushing the boundaries of medical excellence and offering a second chance at life”.
The child’s parents are a relieved lot and happy. Edith, her mother (name changed) said “She is good, she’s smiling, dancing and has learnt lot of things during this period”.
It’s yet another heart rending story on organ donation saving lives in India and Tamil Nadu leading in this mission.