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From Karachi to Chennai: 19-Year-Old Pakistani Receives Life-Saving Heart Transplant In India

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(CTN News) – A 19-year-old Pakistani teenager, Ayesha Rashid, embarked on a remarkable journey from Karachi to Chennai, India, seeking a life-saving heart transplant.

Diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy at the tender age of 14, Ayesha’s heart condition necessitated urgent medical intervention.

Reports from Indian media reveal that initially, Ayesha received a Left Ventricle Assist Device (LVAD) implant under the supervision of Dr. KR Balakrishnan’s team. Unfortunately, complications arose as the device malfunctioned, leading to an infection.

Undeterred by the setback, the medical team orchestrated a heroic feat by orchestrating a successful heart transplant, utilizing the heart of a 69-year-old brain-dead Indian donor. The donor’s heart was transported from Delhi to Chennai, breathing new life into Ayesha.

This heartwarming saga underscores the boundless potential of medical cooperation across borders, offering hope and vitality to individuals in need.

Healthcare Infrastructure Challenges in Pakistan

However, it also underscores the disparities in healthcare infrastructure, particularly in the domain of heart transplant facilities, within Pakistan.

Dr. Balakrishnan, in an interview with ANI, shed light on the arduous journey Ayesha faced, both medically and logistically.

He highlighted the challenges encountered in Pakistan, where the management of patients with artificial heart pumps is hindered by inadequate monitoring equipment and financial constraints.

Despite the obstacles, Ayesha’s resilience and the unwavering support of the medical team facilitated her journey to recovery. Dr. Balakrishnan revealed that Ayesha, now fully recuperated, is on the verge of returning home.

However, her recovery journey entails a lifelong commitment to immunosuppressive therapy, ensuring the longevity of her new lease on life.

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Pakistanis Seeking Heart Transplants Abroad

Ayesha Rashid’s journey to India for a heart transplant is not an isolated case among Pakistanis seeking life-saving treatment abroad. In 2014, a 46-year-old man named Amir underwent a similar procedure in Chennai, India, after exhausting all other treatment options.

Amir recalls how doctors in Pakistan managed his condition with medication, but emphasized that a transplant was the only viable solution.

Driven by the quest for a cure, Amir found a ray of hope through online research, leading him to a heart transplant center in Chennai. There, he received a new heart from an anonymous Indian donor, marking a pivotal moment in his battle against heart disease.

However, the road to transplantation hasn’t always been smooth for Pakistanis seeking treatment in India. Qari Zubair, an imam from Gujrat, was among the first Pakistanis to undergo a heart transplant in Chennai.

Tragically, Zubair encountered complications post-surgery and did not survive.

Reflecting on his experience, Amir acknowledges that he is among the fortunate few to have survived long-term after the transplant. He reveals that at least six Pakistanis, including himself, have undergone heart transplants in India.

However, the journey has been fraught with challenges, with four individuals succumbing to complications following their surgeries.

The question arises: why do Pakistanis feel compelled to travel to India for heart transplants?

Several transplant and cardiac surgeons point to a myriad of reasons, including a lack of expertise, exorbitant costs, limited post-operative care facilities, and a shortage of deceased donors in Pakistan.

These factors collectively contribute to the absence of a robust heart transplant program within the country, compelling patients to seek treatment abroad in pursuit of a second chance at life.

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Advancing Heart Transplant Care in Pakistan: Challenges and Prospects

The absence of heart transplant facilities in Pakistan stems from two critical factors, as highlighted by renowned liver transplant surgeon Dr. Faisal Saud Dar: the scarcity of deceased donors and a shortage of specialized expertise in the field.

Dr. Dar underscores the imperative of fostering awareness about posthumous organ donation as a means to mitigate this shortage and potentially save numerous lives.

In contrast, celebrated cardiac surgeon Dr. Pervaiz Chaudhry remains optimistic about Pakistan’s capacity to establish a robust heart transplant program in the near future. Armed with extensive experience, including over 71 heart transplants and multiple lung transplants, Dr. Chaudhry asserts his readiness to spearhead such an initiative.

He recently underwent refresher training on heart transplants in the United States and had initiated a program at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) in Karachi aimed at implanting Left Ventricle Assist Devices (LVADs) in heart failure patients, a crucial precursor to heart transplants. Regrettably, this endeavor faced unforeseen challenges, leading to its cessation.

Undeterred, Dr. Chaudhry has submitted applications to the Human Organ Transplant Authority (HOTA) to conduct heart and lung transplants at Umer Hospital in Lahore.

He stresses the importance of establishing clear definitions of “brain death” in Pakistan, facilitating organ donation procedures from deceased individuals.

Meanwhile, individuals like Amir, who have undergone transplants abroad, express their desire for Pakistan to establish its own transplant centers.

Despite recognizing the complexity and expense associated with heart transplants, Amir emphasizes the immense burden placed on patients by having to travel to India for such procedures.

He advocates for the establishment of local centers offering transplant services at affordable or no cost, envisioning a scenario where more lives can be saved within the country’s borders.

SEE ALSO: Canada Invests $59.9 Million in Semiconductor Projects with IBM

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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