We’ve come a long way from the times of boring a hole into people’s head, which is believed to be the world’s oldest surgical technique. Today, surgeries are commonplace, and we’re constantly coming up with new technologies that push the boundaries of medical procedures. We live in an age where a deceased patient’s heart can be used to give someone else a chance at life.
Heart transplants are fairly recent–the first human heart transplant was conducted in 1967, in South Africa. This was a few years after Dr. James Hardy transplanted a chimpanzee’s heart into 68-year-old Boyd Rush.
Today, heart transplants have become routine, but the procedure is fraught with logistical nightmares and requires precise teamwork and coordination. This episode of The Intersection goes behind the frenzy, bringing you the real-life story of how a heart was transported from Indore to Mumbai, saving the life of a 16-year-old girl.
In India the process of coordinating for this top-notch medical procedure is comparatively rudimentary. Behind the green corridors and hour-hour deadlines (four hours is the longest a heart can survive outside a human body), lie interpersonal relationships and informal coordination.
Medical innovation is ongoing and can do a lot to make the process easier, safer and more efficient–just a few years back, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) experimented with a new method logistical system that transported a live, beating heart in a special box–you can read more about it here. There’s also a video of the box in action:
A centralised, government-supported setup to organise heart transplants in India is on its way, but till then a group of committed people are doing everything that they can to make up for its absence.