Omani citizen Qassin Nasser Sultan Alriyani’s (56) undying zeal to live seems to have snatched him back from death. After having had his heart cut open twice in two different countries, Alriyani was finally gifted a second lease of life by the doctors in the city who performed six procedures on him at a go.

During the 12-hours-long surgery at the Asian Heart Hospital (AHI) in Bandra, doctors fixed his collapsing breast bone, repaired and replaced malfunctioning heart valves and fixed his irregular heart beat. These routine cardiac procedures became complicated as they were performed together on a patient with a fragile heart. The challenges were manifold for the team of AHI doctors who were led by cardiac surgeon Dr Ramakant Panda. “Everything that can go wrong with one’s heart was wrong with his, and we had to fix that,” said Panda.

Right from accessing his heart through an infected chest bone and attaching the heart-lung machine, the doctors had to innovate at every step. It took them five hours to reach Alriyani’s heart and then they found that all his organs, including the infected bones, lungs, tissues, had jumbled up and stuck to the heart. The lubricating membrane that separates the heart from other organs was destroyed. “It was an extremely rare case. His heart was stopped for 2.5 hours when we had to finish the main work, fixing everything in a short time,” said Panda, also vice-chairman of the hospital.

“Conventionally, the heart-lung machine is fitted through one’s groin, but in Alriyani’s case, it was not possible as his aorta had stents, and fitting the machine would have heightened the risk of blood flowing back to his heart, killing him. Through the collar bone, we created an artificial route to the artery and attached the machine to his heart,” Panda said.

TOI met Alriyani at the hospital where he was recuperating. “It feels like I have cheated death several times,” said the Omani businessman. Back home in 2011, a ruptured aorta, the longest vessel originating in the heart that supplies oxygenated blood to body, had almost killed Alriyani; in fact, he remembers the doctors, who performed an open-heart surgery after the rupture, talking among themselves that he was certainly going to die.

The surgery sealed the leak in Alriyani’s aorta but a persistent cough repeatedly tore the stitches on his chest wall. , which was cut by surgeons to get an access to the heart.

He kept making rounds of the OT for the next few days but the aorta was only partially fixed following which Alriyani visited Narayana Hrudayalya in Bengaluru in January 2012. There, he was fitted with three stents in the aorta but while visiting his daughter in Malaysia, Alriyani again suffered chest pain. Doctors there said his valves, responsible for unidirectional flow of blood through heart, were leaking. Refusing to operate upon him, the doctors referred him to AHI, where he went through the life-saving procedures.

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