Guwahati, Jan 13 : Dhani Ram Baruah, a Guwahati based heart specialist and transplant surgeon, became very cheerful after getting to know that the US doctors at University of Maryland School of Medicine successfully transplanted a genetically modified pig heart into a 57-year-old patient — a similar transplant he had done 25 years ago but unfortunately, his patient died after a week.
Doctors at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who transplanted a pig heart into a patient David Bennett in a last-ditch effort to save his life, claimed that the transplant showed that a heart from a genetically modified animal can function in the human body without immediate rejection.
Baruah, who had been running the Dhani Ram Baruah Heart Institute and Institute of Applied Human Genetic Engineering at Sonapur on the outskirts of Guwahati, lost the ability to speak normally after a surgery following a brain stroke in 2016.
According to Baruah’s close associate, the septuagenarian surgeon along with Hong Kong based doctor Dr Jonathan Ho Kei-Shing, had conducted a 15-hours long surgery for pig-to-human heart transplant into a 32-year-old patient Purno Saikia in 1997.
However, Saikia, who had a ventricular septal defect or hole in the heart had died after a week, leading to his and his associate’s arrest and harassment besides arsoning and damage to his institute.
The Assam government had conducted an inquiry into the incident and found that the procedure was medically and ethically wrong as his institute neither applied and nor obtained registration as required under the transplant laws.
Both Baruah and his Hong Kong based surgeon were charged with culpable homicide and various provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, and imprisoned for 40 days.
Baruah was eventually released from jail and returned to his institute but found it to be fully smashed. According to the media report, Baruah spent the next 18 months under virtual house arrest, but continued his study on numerous matters.
Baruah in 2008 had claimed that he had developed a ‘genetically engineered’ vaccine that would cure congenital heart defects.
In 2015, the surgeon once again hit the headlines when he presented some patients claiming that he “cured” 86 HIV/AIDS patients in seven-eight years.
According to his close associate, Baruah had written to the UNAIDS, WHO and an US base institute claiming his ‘success’ and saying that he was ready for scrutiny of his works. But Baruah’s theories were never really taken into consideration by any authority.
Baruah had been invited by the Abu Dhabi government to set up an open heart surgery hospital. He went there on October 5, 1985, and in the next month he conducted the first open heart surgery in that country.