ABO-Incompatible Heart Transplant Saves Bulgarian Child's Life in Chennai

ABO-Incompatible Heart Transplant Saves Bulgarian Child's Life in Chennai Fri , May 24

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  • The journey to find hope stretched across continents. Maria (name changed), a one-and-a-half-year-old from Bulgaria suffered terminal heart failure due to Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), a condition in which the heart chambers become enlarged and weaken, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood.

  • She was experiencing severe shortness of breath, swelling, chest pain and her only hope was to find a new heart.

  • Maria was airlifted from Bulgaria to Chennai during which she experienced two separate cardiac arrests, one over Karachi airspace and another upon arrival at MGM Healthcare.

  • The medical team, led by Dr. K.R. Balakrishnan, Co-Director, Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support, Dr. Suresh Rao KG, and Dr Ravi Kumar initiated an aggressive resuscitation measure, including prolonged CPR and venoarterial (VA-ECMO) support which aids in heart and lungs function. Maria showed incredible resilience and woke up after 48 hours of critical care, although still needing assistance from the ECMO machine.

  • After being stabilized, the medical team faced a tough decision about whether to implant an artificial heart pump. In a twist of fate a donor heart from Mumbai became available, although of a different blood group.

  • Despite the risks associated with ABO incompatibility – blood group mismatch between the donor and the recipient – the decision was made to proceed with the transplant due to the Maria’s critical condition and lack of suitable domestic recipients for the donor heart. Post-transplant, Maria required continued ECMO support and tailored immunosuppression to manage the ABO-incompatible organ.

  • Dr. K R Balakrishnan, Director, Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support, MGM Healthcare, shared his perspective, stating, ABO-incompatible heart transplants can only be performed on babies and small children since the immune system is immature and there is very little chance of organ rejection response, which can allow for an ABO-mismatch heart to be used. This increases the donor pool and decreases wait-list mortality. This case exemplifies the true potential of medical science when coupled with determination and a collaborative spirit.

  • After three months of treatment at MGM Healthcare, Maria’s parents witnessed their child make a full recovery. With joy in their hearts, they finally flew back to Bulgaria.

  • Maria’s story is a testament to the incredible power of medicine, of teams working together across borders, and of a little girl’s unwavering spirit. It’s a story of hope that shows even the smallest hearts can hold the greatest strength.

  • The Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant at MGM Healthcare stands as the country’s largest heart and lung transplant with an immense record of 600+ heart and lung transplants.

  • Call us at 044 4524 2407 for a personalised consultation.