The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Union’ of jubilee hearts

Chennai, Feb. 12: Mayavati Mondal delayed her valve replacement operation by two days because husband B.C. Mondal needed an emergency bypass.

When the couple from Bengal woke up side by side on their hospital beds this week, separated only by a partition, to the doctors at the Coimbatore hospital it seemed nothing short of a “reunion”.

“It’s rare in medical history for a couple to have heart surgery together,” said Dr G. Bakthavathsalam, chairman of the K.G. Hospital.

“You know, they had just completed the golden jubilee of their marriage last December. They had serious conditions and considering their age and the huge risk, hospitals in Mumbai and Chennai had declined to hold out too much hope. Then they came to us.”

The couple from Durgapur, who had had a love marriage, were no strangers to bad news. Their son had died in a train accident in 1998 — just after their grandson was born — and their daughter-in-law passed away soon after.

But when they had to be admitted to a Calcutta hospital with chest pain last December and were told both would need surgery, the couple were despondent.

“They told us, ‘We have an eight-year-old grandson to bring up’,” Dr Bakthavathsalam said.

With other hospitals jittery, K.G. Hospital’s chief cardiac surgeon, Dr T. Jayarama Pai, a veteran of over 7,000 surgeries, took up the challenge.

The couple got on a train with their grandson, but coronary thrombosis patient B.C. Mondal’s condition turned into an emergency during the journey.

“He developed chest pain on the train. That meant he needed emergency bypass surgery and had to be operated on first instead of his wife,” Dr Bakthavathsalam said.

“We prefer at least a month’s gap in such cases — one reason being that any adverse development during surgery on one could aggravate the other’s heart problem.”

But neither could Mayavati’s surgery wait. But she insisted she would wait until her husband had been operated on.

After the husband’s five-hour surgery on February 3, Dr Pai operated on Mayavati on February 5, replacing her defective valve with an imported implant.

The couple and their grandson were to catch a train to Calcutta tonight, the hospital chairman said.

The double surgery has been a sort of hat-trick for Dr Pai, who had twice before done near-simultaneous operations on couples.

“Before the Mondals left, they told Dr Pai, ‘We see our own son in you’,” Dr Bakthavathsalam said.

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