New Delhi: UPA chairperson and Congress party president, Sonia Gandhi on Monday felicitated India’s first successful liver transplant recipient, Sanjay Kandasamy from Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu who had undergone a liver transplant as an 18-month-old child in November 1998 at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi.
On the 15th anniversary of successful liver transplantation in India, Gandhi interacted with Sanjay and his family at her residence here and said, “It is wonderful to see how the young infant in dire need of a transplant is today a healthy young man who himself wants to become a doctor. It is a testament not only on India’s medical acumen but also of the tenacity of this young man. I wish him and his family the very best for the future and I would like to congratulate the institution for establishing liver transplantation in our country.”
Sanjay was born with a rare condition called Biliary Atresia, which is seen in 1 in 12,000 babies. This is a condition in which there is no connection between the liver and the intestine so the bile produced in the liver cannot be excreted and therefore damages the liver. These babies develop jaundice a few days after birth and the jaundice progressively increases. An operation to create bile flow, if performed before the age of 2 months can prevent liver failure. Unfortunately in India, most babies with biliary atresia are diagnosed after the age of 3 months making this operation unsuccessful. This happened in Sanjay’s case. Since his condition was deteriorating because of liver failure, his family decided to come to Delhi as a liver transplantation programme was being established at Apollo Hospitals, Delhi. Sanjay’s father came forward to donate a part of his liver to give his son a new lease of life. Sanjay became the first child to undergo a liver transplant in India on November 15, 1998 and made medical history, according to a statement by Apollo Hospitals.
According to Dr Anupam Sibal, group medical director and senior paediatric gastroenterologist, Apollo Hospitals Group, “Sanjay now leads a completely normal life, goes to school like other kids, enjoys meals, plays football, wants to become a doctor to save lives.”
“Sanjay’s success helped establish liver transplantation in India. The Apollo Transplant Programme has now performed more than 1500 liver transplants, out of which more than 700 have been performed in the last two years. By performing 1200 solid organ transplants in 2012, the Apollo Transplant Programme became the busiest solid organ transplant in the world. Today, we would like to thank Sanjay’s family for their faith in us which helped the programme achieve this landmark,” Dr Sibal said.
Preetha Reddy, managing director, Apollo Hospitals Group, said, “The success of the liver transplantation has established the low cost – high quality value proposition that India offers and has enhanced the reputation of Indian healthcare globally. The outcomes are comparable to the best in the West with a cost which is one tenth.”