Gleb Kudriavtceva, a Russian boy aged just two years and nine months, has been given his life back by a spectacularly selfless act. Gleb has become the youngest child in Russian history to undergo a lifesaving heart transplant. This is possible because a Bengaluru couple have agreed to donate the organs of their two-year-old and unfortunately brain dead son.

The team of doctors, from Fortis Malar hospital, have not only saved this child’s life but may also have opened up the possibilities of treating other children who are suffering from end-stage heart failure. Meant for ‘no-option’ patients, the heart transplant is a ray of hope for patients who do not expect to get relief through an angioplasty or a coronary bypass surgery.

The surgery took place on December 19th and the procedure took over 8 hours, with Gleb weighing just seven kilograms. Gleb was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy when he had just turned one. The condition means that the heart loses its capacity to relax with each beat, this means that the disease prevents pumping of blood to the heart which results in patients having a very high lung pressure. This left him with heart transplant as the only solution.

Nelli Kudriavtceva, Gleb’s mother, had been gathering funding for this operation and seeking out support for some time. When enough funds were raised she was able to transport herself and her son to Germany for confirmation of the diagnosis. With the disease confirmed Nelli went in search of a donor and found one in India.

Dr Balakrishnan, Director of Cardiac Sciences at Fortis Malar hospital stated, “On arrival, Gleb’s condition was quite critical, with an extremely low heart function and high levels of createnine, due to poor kidney function. He was immediately listed on the transplant list at both the state level and the regional level so that he could get a suitable heart at the earliest,”

Dr Balakrishnan would add that, “After a wait of one-and-half months, on December 18 evening, the team of doctors from hospital received an alert about a suitable heart being available at Manipal Hospital, Bengaluru. Immediately, a team comprising of a cardio-thoracic surgeon, paediatric interventional cardiologist, cardiac anaesthetist, and intensivist left to Bangalore to evaluate the heart.”

From there the heart was harvested by the visiting team and they were able to transport it to the hospital in time for Gleb to be eligible for transplant. Nelli has since the successful transplant stated, “Until I came to India, I did not believe in miracles but now I am extremely grateful to the doctors at Fortis Malar Hospital. After a long struggle I am finally going to go back to Russia with my son and reunite with my daughter and rest of the family. This is the biggest gift god has given me this New Year”

Hopefully with the success of this operation there can be a renewed focus on treating extremely young patients. The fact that we now know this is possible may well open doors in medicine which we never thought would be available to us. Hopefully we will soon be able to say that more children like Gleb can be saved by one families kindness and a good team of doctors.