Friday, September 23, 2011

Doctors mulled over lung transplant for 70-year-old patient, then gave up the idea

By Soumyadipta Banerjee & Sneha Mahadevan

Untill Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi breathed his last on Thursday evening, doctors attending to him at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi didn’t know how to revive the infected lungs of the former India captain.

According to a close friend of Pataudi’s daughter and Bollywood starlet Soha Ali Khan, the doctors couldn’t do much as the 70-year-old’s lungs failed rapidly. “They told us he was suffering from interstitial lung disease (interstitial pneumonitis) and that they really couldn’t do much about it,” the friend said. “They said they were trying their best to figure out how to treat him, but couldn’t do much to improve his condition. They couldn’t even tell us how he had contracted the disease, or explain the line of treatment,” the friend added.

At one point, the doctors discussed a possible lung transplant, but considering the septuagenarian’s condition, they dropped the idea. “They tried one antibiotic after another, but could never get him back,” the friend said. “We asked if he could be shifted to a speciality hospital, but by then, it was too late to move him.”

According to, interstitial lung disease is a term that refers to a particular type of inflammation of the interstitium, the tissue surrounding and separating the tiny air sacs (alveolae) in the lungs. The disease involves inflammation of this supportive tissue between the air sacs rather than inflammation in the air sacs themselves.

It is typically a diffused process that occurs all over the lungs and is not confined to one location. And because interstitial lung disease has a number of causes (most of which are not related to infection), the term ‘interstitial pneumonitis’ is occasionally used to refer to the inflammation that occurs in the absence of true infection.

Pataudi was suffering from breathing problems for the last three months, but no one had anticipated that his condition would worsen so rapidly.

“He was unable to maintain his oxygen level in spite of all the treatment,” said one doctor at the hospital. “He was in the ICU for at least 20 days. The disease had been static (stable) for the last three months but it went from bad to worse over the last four weeks.

“The possibility of a lung transplant was discussed, but we decided not to go ahead as he was very weak and unstable,” the doctor added.

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