Saraswati Devi, 50 years of age, a diabetic who had undergone a stenting procedure a few months ago began experiencing chest pain and visited the hospital for a regular check up.
‘Medically a person is declared brain dead if the oxygen has not reached the brain for four minutes but the patient survived for nearly 10 minutes.’
The angiography report showed that the cardiac condition had worsened and the patient needed an urgent bypass procedure. When she was wheeled into the operation theater, she suffered from a massive heart attack and her blood pressure plummeted to zero
The doctors immediately administered CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). This helped ensure that the blood and oxygen circulation continued however the patient still didn't show any signs of revival. CPR was administered for 20 minutes after which the doctors decided to continue with the bypass surgery.
The anesthesia team pressed into action and put in IV lines. The challenge was to reach the heart which would have meant a time lag of at least 20 minutes from sterilization of the surgical site to opening up the chest cavity through a process called, 'sternotomy' (vertical incision is made along the sternum or the rib cage, after which the sternum itself is divided to reach the heart).
"We had to work fast as we needed to ensure that the brain does not go without oxygen supply for too long. Medically a person is declared brain dead if the oxygen has not reached the brain for four minutes. In this case, oxygen did not reach the brain for 10 minutes," said S.N. Khanna, Associate Director (Cardiac Surgery) at the hospital.
While the surgery was successful overall, the doctors feared that due to substantial lag in oxygen supply to her brain, Devi could suffer from severe brain impairment.
"We were extremely apprehensive about the condition the patient would be in when she woke up but there was no untoward damage to her brain functions. It was nothing short of a miracle," Khanna said.
The post-operative recovery was uneventful and she was extubated almost as any normal patient who would have undergone a bypass surgery
Saraswati Devi was discharged from the hospital and has returned back home to Sonebhadra district in Uttar Pradesh, the doctor said.