Thiruvananthapuram, Nov. 27: A Kerala meat products company has decided to lend heart patients a helping hand ' with pig hearts.
The gesture of the state-owned Meat Products of India has come as a boon to thousands of heart patients in need of valve replacement who would no longer have to import either mechanical heart valves that cost Rs 50,000 or tissue valves from calves or pigs which cost about Rs 45,000.
The indigenously supplied pig heart valve would cost just Rs 20,000, including the expenses for de-cellularisation, necessary to pre-empt rejection by the human body.
The meat products company on Thursday agreed to supply pig hearts free of cost to the Chennai-based International Centre for Cardio Thoracic and Vascular Diseases. Dr K.M. Cherian, the head of the international centre, signed an agreement with the company which also agreed to supply pig ureters for replacing damaged blood vessels in diabetic patients.
Under the project, a pig heart valve and ureter-harvesting unit would function at the meat factory at Koothattukulam in Kottayam. The valves and ureters would be cryo-preserved (preserved in extreme ly low temperatures) and transferred to the International Centre for Bio-medical Sciences, Chennai, the research wing of the cardiac centre, for de-cellularisation.
Cherian, who visited the factory last month, expressed satisfaction with its hygiene standards and collected 12 pig valves for experiments.
Robert Bruce Karp, an international expert on transplantation of de-cellularised pig ureters and professor of surgery at Alabama and Chicago Universities, praised the agreement as a great initiative for indigenous use of resources.
Sources said the agreement between the meat factory and the cardiac centre could help thousands of rheumatic heart patients irrespective of their religion. Even in the case of Muslims, for whom pork is haram (forbidden), clear edicts have been issued by scholars regarding animal implants.
Doha-based Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has issued a fatwa saying necessity overrules prohibitions. 'Basically, transplanting an organ from an impure animal such as a pig to a human body must not be resorted to, save in case of necessity,' he said.
'In such a case, it can be argued that what is forbidden with respect to pigs is consuming their meat as stated in the Quran. However, transplanting a part from it to a human body is not consumption but falls under the category of making use of this part. The Prophet has permitted the use of some part of it ' its skin. Then, if it is permitted to make use of some part of dead animals, then it is also permissible, by analogy, to make use of pigs in things other than consumption.'
Prominent Muslim scholar Mufti Ebrahim Desai added: 'If there is almost certain fear of loss of life or danger of losing a limb or organ, and the replacement is only found in haram animals or in permissible animals (which can be eaten) but not slaughtered according to Islamic rites, then use of such a component is permissible.'
The late Sheikh ibn Baz, an eminent Muslim scholar and former mufti of Saudi Arabia, was also of the view that if necessary, transplanting an organ from an animal not lawful for Muslim consumption is 'permissible'.