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Heart-valve bank at RG Kar on the cards

March 3, 2012

RG Kar Medical College and Hospital (RGKMCH) is all set to get a heart-valve bank. The initiative to manufacture good quality heart valves and make them available at a low cost is expected to benefit hundreds of patients with defective heart valves. Only a few government hospitals in the country like AIIMS and Madras Medical College have this facility.

In the absence of donor heart-valve banks, patients have to depend on artificial valves that are either extracted from animal tissues or are mechanical. These artificial valves cost anything between Rs 50,000 to a lakh. Also, these valves can have side effects. Therefore, a patient may end up spending a huge sum on post operative medication.

“Heart valves can be harvested from cadavers. Such natural valves are durable and have high performance quality unlike the artificial ones. If a patient continues to live with defective heart valves, it will gradually result in heart failure. This heart-valve bank is aimed at reaching out to numerous patients who need replacement of defective heart valves,” said Dr Bhabatosh Biswas, RGKMCH’s head of cardio thoracic-surgery.

At present, a medical team is undergoing training under Dr Biswas, the only surgeon in the hospital with expertise in dissecting, processing, preserving and implanting heart valves. Donated bodies in the anatomy department are being used for it.

“Natural heart valves are best as implants in terms of durability and quality. In addition, the cost incurred in processing a valve will be just Rs 5,000. Therefore, the bank once operational will benefit many poor patients. The team is being trained in procurement and preservation. It might take about a year to start the actual implant,” said RGKMCH principal, Dr Parthajit Banerjee.

Like other transplantable tissues, the valve can be taken out up to 24 hours after the donor’s death. The valve is then disinfected, preserved and frozen under a certain degree in a controlled liquid nitrogen freezer. The frozen tissue is stored at a temperature below -150° centigrade. It can be stored for up to five years before it is used for an implant.

The hospital already has a cornea bank that benefits a number of patients. It has even tied up with a private eye hospital supplying cornea. Though the number of eye donors has increased by leaps and bounds over the years, donors are still conservative about donating other body parts.

“The situation is changing now with many willing to donate bodies. Heart valves can be extracted from such donated cadavers and processed in this bank,” said state director of medical education, Dr SK Bandyopadhyay.

Categories: Misc
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