Remembering India's first heart transplant surgery
Before 1994, the only way to get a heart transplant for Indians was to go abroad—a luxury most patients suffering end-stage heart disease could not afford.

After the Transplantation of Human Organs Bill finally received the President’s assent on 7 July 1994, a group of surgeons led by P. Venugopal successfully performed India’s first heart transplant at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on 3 August the same year.

It was a landmark legislation to regulate the removal, storage and transplant of human organs.

In the lead-up to the law, Venugopal and his team in the department of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery at AIIMS had been modifying the heart transplant surgery techniques by experimenting on animals.

“We were waiting for the bill to be passed for a long time as they were a lot of patients in the hospital who were suffering from end-stage heart disease and could not be treated through any existing medicines or procedures,” said Venugopal, who was then the chief of the cardiothoracic centre in AIIMS.

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