Heart transplant still a dream


Heart transplant in patients with advanced cardiac diseases is still a dream in Pakistan despite availability of the medical expertise, technological equipment, drugs and the requisite legislation, forcing distressed patients to go abroad for a crucial health facility, Pakistan Today has learnt.
More than 300 patients with advanced heart diseases are enlisted at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), while medical experts have prescribed heart transplant as the only solution to their condition. Heart surgeons from the PIC maintained that a majority of heart treatment facilities available at home were at par with the international standards, with the exception of the heart transplant facility, which is still a dream despite the availability of all requisite facilities. Talking to Pakistan Today, Professor MA Cheema, a senior heart surgeon at PIC, said state-of-the-art facilities were available to treat heart patients at home, but heart transplant was not being performed despite “availability of drugs, expertise, medical equipment and even legislation.” “Previously, organ transplantation was banned under the law, while now the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act 2010 has given it a legal status. Many patients who cannot be given any treatment except a heart transplant are waiting at the PIC, except those who can afford go abroad for a costly transplant,” he said. Professor Cheema further said the success rate of a heart transplant was 70 percent and it was being done successfully in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and India. “There is a great need to make the people aware of the importance of organ donation. A patient who is surviving on a ventilator and has been declared brain dead by medical experts has functioning organs which can be donated to others. Close relatives can make this crucial choice to save precious lives,” Cheema said, adding that heart surgeons had taken a resolve to start this crucial facility at home by next year and the media could play a pivotal role in making it a reality. Another senior doctor highlighted the shortage of human resource and limited centers to train good heart surgeons across the province. He said 98 percent of heart treatment facilities were available in Pakistan, but human resource was required, considering the load of patients at health facilities. He said the population had increased manifold but the state-of-the-art heart facilities were not as many, adding that PIC was the only good training centre for doctors in the province, while those in Faisalabad and Multan were in nascent stages and needed improvement.


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