Joined: 16 Mar 2004
|Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 1:16 pm Post subject: Women in Heart Graft Empowered by Nano Lifeline
|“I had the pleasure to visit the hospital where Dr. Cherian and his group of doctors are doing excellent work…They were not only doing complicated acquired heart diseases, revascularization surgery, bypass and transmyocardial revascularization…but they were also doing very complicated congenital heart surgery. Now I have always said…that congenital heart surgery separates the men from the boys because there, the skill of a heart surgeon is really tested”. Dr. Christiaan Barnard – First Heart Transplant Surgeon.
Girls in India are being trained to perform heart valve replacement surgery
Some years ago, when cardio-thoracic surgeon Dr KM Cherian watched young girls from China moving to Orange County's advanced scientific laboratories to work on projects in cardiac surgery, he decided that he would one day make girls from India's countryside work on similar projects. For a year now, six girls, who joined Dr Cherian's Frontier Lifeline Hospital after passing class X and XII, are working in his research laboratory on animal valves using nanotechnology.
Frontier Lifeline has been using veins, arteries and tissues from buffaloes and pigs as implants on ailing human hearts. More than 400 people have been given such implants in four years now.
Pig valve: an implant for a human heart
"In most cases, the grafts were used on patients who had problems on the right side of the heart, a low pressure zone. If we used them on the left side, they tended to give way. We needed a coating that would keep them strong. That's when we thought of nanotechnology," said Dr Soma Guhathakurtha, director and consultant cardiac surgeon, Frontier Lifeline.
Nanotechnology (nanotech) is a field of applied science that deals with matter on an atomic and molecular scale. It deals with structures 100 nanometre (one nanometre is one billionth of a metre) or smaller.
The hospital has developed a special procedure to process the animal grafts. They are left in a special solution for a week, and all cells are removed from the animal extracts to avoid any immunogenic reaction. A special coat is then added to strengthen them and make them biocompatible. "To execute these things, we were looking for some human resources when Dr Cherian suggested that we train non-graduates," Dr Soma said.
That's how Lakshmi, Valli, Ranjani, Lavanya, Kanimozhi and Vimala got jobs. "Initially, I didn't know what scientists in the lab were talking. Today, after daily lessons in English, biology and anatomy, I have a fair understanding of medical terms and the job I am doing," said Lavanya, who is pursuing higher education through correspondence courses.
Her friends agree. "It is a great feeling that we are working on products that would be implanted in human hearts," said Ranjini.
The girls get Rs 3,000 as stipend, besides boarding and lodging facilities. "People think only highly skilled experts who have doctorate degrees can work on them. We used highly skilled researchers to train these girls to assist them in making the products we need for cardiac surgery. The technology developed by the researchers is being executed by these girls. I call this empowerment," said Dr Cherian.