36-year-old Reena Raj made news in 2009 for becoming the first woman heart recipient in Karnataka. She has recently undergone a second heart transplant in Chennai. With this, she has also become the first woman to undergo a re-transplant in the state.
The re-transplant took place on September 22 after the Tamil Nadu Organ Transplant Authority approved the heart of a 21-year-old brain dead patient to be donated to her.
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Speaking to TOI, Dr K M Cherian, CEO, chairman and cardiac surgeon, Frontier Lifeline Hospital, said Reena suffered from allograft vasculopathy, a disease of the coronary artery where blockages are seen in a transplanted heart.
“This is a known complication of immunosuppressant drugs and only a transplant can help set this right. However, when a cardiac biopsy was done on Reena three months ago, the condition was not apparent,” he said.
“It’s nothing but a second chance for me. I was unconscious for days. When I woke up I was told that I had undergone a transplant for the second time. The organ came to me as the donor’s heart didn’t match three other patients,” said Reena who is now back in Bengaluru
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Exhibits unparalleled strength
The lady has a trail of achievements to her credit. She made history by becoming the first woman to represent India in World Transplant Games Federation. It is an international sports contest of organ recipients held in Malaga, Spain, in June 2017.
She participated in badminton-mixed doubles, and in 100 metre sprint. She is also the founder of Light – A Life Foundation, aimed at assisting organ recipients through counselling and providing them with life-saving medicines.
“Reena’s case is unique and a write-up on the same will be sent to a peer scientific journal. Hers is the first heart re-transplant we have done,” said Dr Cherian.
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