Daisy D'Costa, 84, is the first woman in India to undergo a coronary artery bypass surgery at the Railway Hospital.
It was a few days after Easter, on a hot April morning in 1976, that Daisy D'Costa became, arguably, the first woman in India to undergo a coronary artery bypass surgery.
The 44-year-old, had a heart attack and was rushed her to the hospital by her son. "Cardiac surgery was in its infancy in the country then and there was no experience with coronary artery bypass surgeries", said K.M. Cherian, Chairman, Frontier Lifeline Hospital, who was then with the Railway Hospital.
He led the team, which performed the surgery on Ms. D'Costa. "We did not have a cath lab for the angiogram or a trained cardiologist to perform it. We did not have a perfusionist to operate the heart-lung machine. A signals and telecommunications engineer from Southern Railway handled it. We used silk as the suture material - nowadays, its prolene. We had no magnification or headlights that are routine today. We used a disc oxygenator, which is now a museum relic. But this did not stop us," he says.
"The facilities back then were nothing like what we have now. We had no cath lab (examination room with diagnostic imaging equipment), no cardiologist or cardio-anesthetist. No one in the team had done a bypass surgery before," said Dr K M Cherian.
There were no stents back then and no keyhole procedures - the surgery was open heart and a vein from Ms. D'Costa's leg was used to patch up her heart, says Dr. Cherian.
"I was comfortable here and Dr. Cherian gave me confidence. I was not scared at all. The doctor told my husband, I will give you back your wife and then you can fly out. And he did," said Ms. D'Costa.
After a four-hour surgery and 11 days in hospital, Ms. D'Costa was back home. She was back to travelling the world over with her husband and raising her five children. Almost 40 years later, at 84, Ms. D'Costa, who is 10 years older than her surgeon, is still sprightly and smiling.