For a few minutes 19-year-old Veeranjaneyulu was without a heart, literally. An Apollo Hospitals team led by, cardiothoracic surgeon Vijay Dikshit, had plucked out the failing heart of this pharmacy student, as they were about to receive a heart donated by the kin of a youth.

“A couple of hours later, I have got a new life,” a beaming Veeranjaneyulu said, putting his hand on his heart — the new one.

In a meticulously planned operation, doctors at Yashoda Hospital packed the vital organ of the brain dead youth and despatched it to Apollo’s Jubilee Hospital facility as the police ensure a ‘green channel’ for the ambulance, giving it an unhindered passage through 15 km.

“Thanks to the police support, we received the heart in just eight minutes. Time is very important here. The heart generally stops functioning as blood circulation withers away. Each minute is important. Unlike other organs, heart has to be transplanted within a couple of hours. With effort, you can use it up to six hours, not beyond” Dikshit said.

Apollo Hospitals group Executive Director Sangita Reddy said about 50,000 require heart transplantations. “But the country has so far performed about 100 transplantations, leaving huge scope for improvement,” she said.

All end-stage cardiac problems would require transplantations. In this case, the patient was left with a weak heart, following a medical condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, with a cascading impact on the functioning of the vital organs like kidney and liver. “Now that his heart is back, all other organs would function normally,” Dikshit said.

As in other transplantations, the patient would be under immuno suppressants to help the body accommodate the ‘foreign’ organ.

A typical heart transplantation costs Rs 10-15 lakh. Apollo Hyderabad, doing its first heart transplant, has not charged Veeranjaneyulu any fee.

The traffic police, who generally end up managing traffic for VIPs, too are happy. “You know, you are kindling two lives – the one who is just dead and the one who might have been dead by now,” Dasaratharami Reddy, a senior police official, said.