Doctors in a Kolkata hospital saved a 22-year-old man who had his heart pierced by a 10-inch long dart. A Bhutanese citizen, he was hit accidentally by the dart while practising for a show to observe the country's Independence Day. Made of iron, the dart made an inch-long dent on the right ventricle and remained lodged, keeping the injury plugged. The youngster was flown to Kolkata within 12 hours of the accident and underwent a surgery last week. He will fly back to Bhutan this weekend.
"It was his sheer good luck that none tried to fiddle with the dart, or else he might have died. Had it been pulled out by force, he would have bled to death. He was brought to our hospital in less than 12 hours of the accident and we conducted the surgery within a couple hours. It has been successful and the young man has recovered completely. He will be released in a day or two," said Kunal Sarkar, cardiologist at Medica Superspecialty, who conducted the operation.
It was a miraculous escape since few survive with a pierced heart, said doctors at the hospital. In this case, even though the dart had kept the injury plugged, blood had been oozing out and collected around the heart. A surgery was needed immediately, but opening the chest could have been dangerous. So, Sarkar chose to conduct a percutaneous (heart-lung) bypass. It is done using a cardiopulmonary support system (PCPS) — a compact, battery-powered, portable heart-lung machine that can be implemented rapidly in any area of the hospital. PCPS provides temporary circulatory support by actively aspirating blood from the patient's venous system using a centrifugal pump and hollow fibre membrane oxygenator for gas exchange.
"It gives you more control over the situation. We then opened the chest and took out the dart. The repair job was not very complicated, nor was the recovery. In fact, it took less than a week," said Sarkar. The young man, a student, was practising for a daring act. It was learnt that he had been standing in front of a life-size dart board while another performer hurled the iron darts at the board. He was accidentally hit by one that went into his chest.
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