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Investigation called on death of heart transplant patient

The Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Minister has called for a complete investigation into the cause of death of the second heart transplant patient.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said it was not the surgery but a post-operative infection which was the likely cause of death of the patient.

The patient, 19-year-old Sachini Sewwandi passed away on Saturday (30) at the Kandy General Hospital. The cause of death was said to be high blood pressure in the lungs.

Addressing the weekly Cabinet media briefing yesterday, he reiterated that there was no sign of sabotage in the case.

“I had discussions with the surgeon concerned and he explained his side to me. The child’s disease was only seen through one angle. The surgeon had been warned not to undertake this operation but he had gone ahead with all the inputs from his senior professors and was well prepared. From his side, he did it well. The heart started to pump and the child regained consciousness,” he explained.

The operation has been rife with controversy from the start with a tug of war between the surgeons at the hospital having caused delays to the operation. They had also complained that they were not given the right machines to undertake the operation.

Minister Senaratne however, explained that he had made all the arrangements to get the machines they needed and that they started with all the necessary equipment.

The operation was successful and the patient recovered faster than the first one. She was young and so was her heart, said the Minister.

He added that she would have caught the infection during her recovery in the ICU.

Senaratne said they were awaiting the microbiological report on the patient to further confirm their initial findings.