AHMEDABAD :¬†City-based cardiac surgeons are keeping oxygenators – a vital component of heart-lung machines used for open heart surgeries – close to their hearts nowadays. The reason is, the disposable accessory which oxygenates the patient’s blood during the medical procedure when lungs are not working to keep him or her alive, is in severe short supply.Almost all the oxygenators are imported from the US and European countries, said experts, and hospitals are lobbying hard with the government to intervene to ensure steady supply. The experts cite reasons ranging from short supply of raw material to ongoing Ukraine conflict as possible reasons for the compromised supply.

Dr Anil Jain, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Epic Hospital, said that procedures such as coronary bypass surgeries are done ‘open heart.’ “We perform about 10-odd surgeries daily that require the machine. As of today, we have stock of only 15-20 oxygenators with us. We are searching frantically with all possible suppliers across India to ensure that we can remain on schedule for live-saving procedures,” he said. “Other disposables such as intra-aortic balloon pump and catheter are also in short supply.”

Dr Tushar Shah, a cardiothoracic surgeon associated with multiple city-based hospitals including SAL Hospital and Rajasthan Hospital, said that across Gujarat, about 2,000 open-heart surgeries are performed per month. “If the supply of disposables including oxygenators is not restored to meet demand, it will adversely impact the entire sector. We are deferring some surgeries if the patient is not in dire need of the procedure,” he said, adding that the community has appealed to the government to intervene.

Nirmal Chaddha, a city-based supplier of medical equipment, said that the inventory of the equipment for cardiac surgeries such as oxygenators and intra-aortic balloon pump and catheters is at all-time low. “We have already requested several doctors and hospitals to first consult us about availability of the same before planning a surgery. To give you an example, if we order 100 oxygenators, we are getting 20,” he said.

Dhanvant Shah, another supplier operating across Gujarat, said that factors such as long lockdown in China – the major supplier of raw materials for the disposable items – along with ongoing Ukraine conflict are responsible for the short supply.

“We are sourcing it from across India and even abroad with no options left. We are not sure when the regular supply will resume,” he said.

Manoj Bhimani, managing trustee of Sri Sathya Sai Heart Hospital, said that due to the shortage of oxygenators, the open-heart surgeries on children with congenital heart issues has more than halved from 126 to 56 in the past one month. “The disposables for the heart-lung machine and procedures are life-saving, and one of our staff member’s full-time work for the past 20-25 days is just to coordinate with suppliers across India to secure it,” he said.