K.P. Appu Chettiar, a businessman, underwent the rare liver transplant surgery at super speciality Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) July 6.
Chettiar was suffering from Hepatitis-B for the last two-and-a-half years, making his liver shrink and become almost non-functional. According to doctors at Ganga Ram who performed the operation, he would not have survived more than a few months without the transplant.
His illness resulted in repeated infections, vomiting blood and excessive water retention in his abdomen for the past six months. He was put on close observation at the hospital for two months, ahead of the surgery.
The donors were his nephew and the nephew's wife. "We took the left lobe of his nephew's liver and a right lobe from his nephew's wife's liver. The procedure was conducted simultaneously in three operation theatres," A.S. Soin, head of the hospital's liver transplant department said Friday.
The 14-hour rare surgery involved 40 doctors and support staff. It cost the patient Rs.2 million.
"Since we took liver parts from two donors, the risk of infection and rejection was double than that of a normal liver transplant where there is only one donor," said Soin.
The doctors had a problem on hand as Chettiar weighed 78 kg, but the donors were thin - neither weighed more than 45 kg. "As per the medical requirement the transplanted liver should be at least 0.8 percent of the body weight, and since both the willing donors were slim, we decided not to take liver from a single individual," said Sanjiv Saigal, a senior doctor involved in the surgery.
"We took 520 grams of liver from the female donor and nearly 280 grams from the male donor. We clipped both parts with a metal clip during the surgery. As soon as the surgeons released the vessel clamps to let the blood flow through the newly transplanted organ, the new livers came to life by changing colour. This indicated the success of our effort," Saigal explained.
Soin said: "We have become the first team in South Asia and fourth in the world to have successfully performed this highly complex procedure, which requires close coordination among dozens of doctors in multiple operation theatres."
The three countries where such operations have taken place are Germany, Turkey and South Korea.
Elaborating on the complicated procedure involved, Soin said: "We conducted 11 fine connections between blood vessels and bile ducts of the new livers without any twist in them."
Speaking to journalists, Chettiar said: "I am feeling much better now as there is not much pain."
His nephew, a bank clerk, and his wife are both doing well.
According to doctors, he may be discharged after a month.