Heart transplant surgery | Daily News

Heart transplant surgery

Dawn of the era of bypass surgery in Sri Lanka
H. H. Liyanage of Akuressa, Paraduwa who is 79 years old with his wife
H. H. Liyanage of Akuressa, Paraduwa who is 79 years old with his wife

Over two decades ago, Sri Lanka had its first heart transplant surgery performed and one man who was lucky enough to be chosen for it was H. H. Liyanage, a resident of Akuressa, Paraduwa.

In 1991, the surgery was performed at Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital, Colombo, by a team of American doctors. Fifteen patients were chosen for the surgery; the second name on that list was that of Liyanage.

The first person to have undergone the procedure passed away, whilst the remaining 14 had successful operations. But today, it is only Liyanage who is alive.

He celebrated his 79th birthday on January 18, 2018 together with his two children and grandchildren.

“When I faced the operation, bypass surgery had never been attempted in Sri Lanka. I was 51 at the time. I was admitted to Sri Jayawardena Hospital on August 8 1991. I was afraid at first and was hesitant as we did not know what this surgery was all about and it had never been done in the country before. The list had 15 names of patients in trial. The first person they did the surgery on did not survive it. I was the second but I fared well”, he said.

I spent one week in hospital before I returned home. Thereafter, for a year I went to the clinic for monitoring. I did not have any heart problems after that. They did many tests to make sure nothing was wrong too. The doctors declared that the operation was a success, said Liyanage further.

I am 79 years now, and I go on with life as usual, doing all my day to day work, he added.

“It was the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa who invited the American team to come and perform that surgery here. To this day we respected him for that and bless his soul”.

By the time Liyanage had been chosen for the bypass surgery he has had several tests performed on him at the Colombo National Hospital. Heart Specialist Dr Tenabandu had informed him that 90 percent of his arteries in the heart were clogged and that he would either have to go to India or America to get the surgery done.

“I did not have money to go abroad. I told Dr Tenabandu that. My children were very young at the time and my wife was the one who looked after all my needs. It was then that the American team of doctors visited the country. I was given the opportunity to live longer through them”, he said.

The sole surviving patient of the first bypass surgery in Sri Lanka has lived a full and fruitful life. He thanks the doctors and staff of the Sri Jayawardena Hospital for having taken care of him and his long-time friend, Sarath Paranawithana for having looked after him during the whole time he was in hospital. 


 

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