Heart transported from Kerala capital to Kochi in less than an hour

Heart transported from Kerala capital to Kochi in less than an hour
Medical officers and police personnel carried out the tasks with utmost urgency. Photo: Manorama News

Thiruvananthapuram: A government-hired helicopter was pressed into service and green corridor secured to transport the heart of a brain-dead woman from Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

The donor is Lali Gopakumar, who was declared brain-dead at the KIMS Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram; while the recipient is a Kothamangalam native, undergoing treatment at Lisie Hospital in Kochi.

After the family of the 50-year-old woman agreed for the organ donation, procedures were speeded up to ensure that the heart was harvested and transported to Kochi via the helicopter at the earliest.

The helicopter, that started from Thiruvananthapuram at 3.05pm, landed at the helipad of the Hyatt Hotel in Ernakulam by 3.55pm. The vital organ was quickly shifted to the ambulance that reached the destination by 4pm.

Lali Gopakumar, a teacher from Chempazhanthy in Thiruvananthapuram, was declared brain dead on Thursday.

The heart was harvested at the KIMS Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram during a two-hour surgery led by Dr Jose Chacko Periappuram. The heart was taken to the Thiruvananthapuram airport in a special ambulance.

After completing the procedures in seven minutes, it was taken to the air ambulance through a green corridor. The police had stepped up security at the KIMS Hospital and airport. 

Minister Kadakampally Surendran, senior police officers and health department officials were also at the spot. Lali's husband Gopakumar, children Devika and Gopish were also present.

Lali's family also agreed to donate two kidneys and both eyes. 

Lali's elder daughter Gopika works as a nurse abroad. Health Minister KK Shyalaja spoke to Lali's daughter Devika over the phone and consoled the bereaved child.

Dr Jose Periappuram of the Lisie Hospital and his team had arrived in Thiruvananthapuram to transport the vital organ. The heart transplant surgery will also be led by Dr Jose Periappuram.

The organ donation was facilitated via the Kerala government's Mrithasanjeevani project. 

The helicopter, Pawan Hans AS 35 dauphin N, was hired by the Kerala government last month. This is the maiden mission of the 10-seater helicopter. The monthly rate for the French-manufactured helicopter is Rs 1,44,60,000.

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