Lung Transplant is on cards at PGI
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  • About 20% of individuals diagnosed with interstitial lung diseases at PGIMER, Chandigarh have Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)
  • Smoking is a risk factor for developing IPF, however, the disease can also develop in non-smokers

Lung Transplant is on cards after years of wait, the PGI is all set to become the first public-sector medical institute for lung transplant in the country. The only delay is Liver Preserve Solution and minor infrastructure requirements, including lung preserver solution.Talking to M4PNews, Dr Digambar Behera, professor and head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, PGI, said the Institute is all geared up with a team of surgeons ready for lung transplant. “We are waiting for some infrastructural requirements to be fulfilled. As soon as we have things in place, which may happen even any day, we will perform the first lung transplant,” he said.

According to Dr Behera, a team of experts from the Institute has undergone successful training in the US for lung transplant, or pulmonary transplantation. Dr. Ashutosh N. Aggarwal, Professor, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, PGI, informed that his department has already screened 200 patients who are potential candidates for lung transplant. “We already have a waiting list of patients ready with us,” he said.

Lung transplantation is generally performed when people suffering with end-stage lung disease fail to get relief from any other medical treatment.“The costs are steep. Getting perfectly healthy lungs from a donor is difficult. Out of all cadaver donations done at PGI till now, less than 50 per cent donor lungs were found to be fit enough for transplant,” said Dr Aggarwal. He added, “A successful transplantation may increase survival of a patient with advanced lung disease with a 5-year survival rate of 50 per cent. Moreover, there is no clearly successful lung transplant programme in India as yet,” Dr Aggarwal said, listing the numerous challenges of lung transplant. “We had a meeting with the representatives from AIIMS. They asked us to go ahead with lung transplant. They may follow after us,” said Dr Behera.

Highlighting the incidence and symptoms of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis in Chandigarh, Prof. Digambar Behera, Senior Professor and Head, Dept. of Pulmonary Medicine, PGIMERsaid, “In the past few years, I have observed an increase in the number of IPF cases. The disease is such that its symptoms tend to vary from individual to individual, however, the initial symptoms always involve breathlessness upon exertion and dry cough that lasts longer than 8 weeks.If any individual experiences these symptoms, it is extremely vital that they visit a doctor for early and accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment and better patient care.”

The average lifespan of those affected with IPF is generally 2 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis. There is no cure for the disease. However, only in the past few years, two drugs, namely pirfenidone and nintedanib have become available that slow down the progression of the disease. Hence, early diagnosis of IPF is of extreme importance as it will help reduce the effects of the symptoms, the progression of the disease and possibly increase the lifespan of the individual.

Emphasizing on the causes of IPF,Dr. Ritesh Agarwal, Additional Professor, Dept. of Pulmonary Medicine,PGIMER said, “IPF is known to usually affect middle-aged and older adults aged between 40 to 70 years. Smokers are at a higher risk of contracting IPF in comparison to those who have never smoked.However, genetics can also play a role in the development of IPF.”

 Signs and symptoms to watch out for: 

  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Chronic cough
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change of finger shape called ‘clubbing’


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