Post-COVID, Jharkhand’s Education Minister undergoes Bilateral Lung Transplant

MGM Healthcare, a super-specialty quaternary care hospital in the heart of Chennai city, performed yet another successful bilateral lung transplantation on a patient with COVID-induced lung damage. The transplant was led by Dr KR Balakrishnan, Chairman of Cardiac Sciences and Director of the Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant & Mechanical Circulatory Support at MGM Healthcare, and his team of transplant specialists including Dr Suresh Rao KG, Dr Srinath Vijayasekharan and Dr Apar Jindal.

The patient, Mr Jagarnath Mahto (54), Education Minister of Jharkhand, tested positive for COVID in September in Jharkhand. He was immediately started with Remdesivir and other steroids. However, his saturation levels worsened and he was put on a ventilator. His lung condition further worsened and his oxygen saturation remained low despite 100% oxygen.  He suffers from comorbidities like hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease.

“Complications in COVID-positive patients are always quite challenging to treat. With the disease having the upper hand on the patient’s deteriorating health condition, for example in this case, where the patient already has a history of diabetes, coronary artery disease and hypertension, we are forced to push boundaries and administer such complex procedures on an immediate basis to save the patient’s life. MGM Healthcare is prepared for challenging cases like this one with a competitive spirit,” said Dr KR Balakrishnan.

The COVID infection resulted in irreparable lung damage, thus making him a candidate for a lung transplant. He was then put on veno-venous ECMO on October 18  and was soon airlifted to MGM Healthcare and was put on ECMO for 22 days while the medical experts studied his case thoroughly. A tracheostomy was performed and his lung functions were monitored, which showed no improvement. A CT scan confirmed fibrosed and damaged lungs.

Mr Mahto underwent the bilateral lung transplantation on November 10 and his oxygenation improved for the first time in months. The transplanted lungs have since shown signs of functioning well.  About ECMO, Dr Suresh Rao KG, Co-Director of the Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant & Mechanical Circulatory Support, said, “In cases like this one, ECMO serves well as a bridge to definitive therapy. Once we receive a healthy pair of lungs from a brain-dead donor, we are ready for the transplantation. Until then, it is the ECMO that performs the role of the lungs and keeps the person alive. ECMO requires highly-trained doctors, critical care specialists, perfusionists, nurses and technicians, apart from excellent technology and infrastructure – and we have all that at MGM Healthcare.

Commenting on the patient’s condition, Dr. Apar Jindal, Clinical Director & Consultant, Lung Transplant, Interventional Pulmonology & Chest Medicine said, “MGM has now successfully performed 6 transplants for COVID destroyed lungs. Mr Mahto’s transplant, which took around 11 hours, was carried out on Tuesday and was a big success. His condition is stable and he is recovering well”

“We were able to take the patient off ECMO immediately post transplant,  he has regained consciousness, is under constant monitoring,  all vital parameters have shown to be stable and he is currently being slowly weaned off ventilator support. He is undergoing physiotherapy and pulmonary rehabilitation.” He further added.

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