Kumud Dhital in first 'dead' heart transplant

2014: A Nepali doctor in world's first 'dead' heart transplant
By NLRC Staff, December 2015


Achievement summary

When a Sydney hospital announced in 2014 that it had successfully transplanted hearts that had stopped beating into patients, it marked a new beginning and a significant breakthrough in heart transplant. Until this breakthrough, the number of donor hearts was limited to brain-dead patients whose hearts were still beating. With this achievement, the use of "donated after circulatory death" (DCD) hearts, where the heart is no longer beating, will make far more donor hearts available for transplant.

A Nepali doctor, Kumud Dhital, was a member of this team and he had performed the first of such successful DCD transplants.

The team, which had been working on this project for 20 years, had performed the transplants using donor hearts that had stopped beating for 20 minutes. The donor hearts were kept in a portable console, and were submerged in a ground breaking preservation solution developed by the hospital and a research institute. This process would then make the hearts start to beat again. "It was possible thanks to new technology." Dhital said, "The incredible development of the preservation solution with this technology of being able to preserve the heart, resuscitate it and to assess the function of the heart has made this possible."[1]

Nepal connection

Dhital was born in Rome; his father, who used to work for the Nepal government, at that time was stationed out to Rome at a UN agency. When they moved back to Nepal, Dhital studied in Nepal until they moved back to Rome when his father went back to the UN after leaving the government service. Dhital finished his secondary school and his professional degree in the United Kingdom before moving to Australia, where he currently works in Sydney.

Dhital's achievement received a good coverage both in national and international media. Through various Nepali media, he has expressed his hope that his success inspires the young Nepali students. While answering to a question about his advice for young students and entrepreneurs outside Nepal, Dhital expressed sadness on their state of not being able to utilize their potential. "Poor students, they come here, end up taking a degree from any university and not being able to compete with others when they go to interviews [for their professional careers]," he said, "I feel very sad when I see the energy of such youth [not being channelized properly] and come to notice that such an important phase of their lives just passes by."[2]

Remembering the advice he had received from his father early on his life, he said, "My father used to say, even if you live or work abroad, try and live like locals or even better. You don’t have to think you’re lower or different, just work hard and you will excel." Mentioning that one needs to find his or her inner strength, follow it without being afraid to aim high and also remembering that dreaming is not enough, he further said, "Have a goal and work towards achieving it every day."[3] He says he feels very attached to Nepal and hopes that his achievement motivates the young and encourages the students in the Nepali community.[4]

Dhital is also involved in a group of academicians of Nepali origin. "There has not been an intellectual support to Nepal from the people in the Nepali academic community living outside of Nepal." he said while discussing the need to provide such support to Nepal in an interview during the 2015 disruptions of supplies to Nepal on the Nepal-India border, "International community learns about Nepal from only one perspective, especially from India or the Western countries, but there is not even a discussion on an intellectual level from within Nepal [to present its perspective in a credible manner to the international community]."[5]

Dhital's success has also become a source of inspiration to the Nepali community that has taken his achievement as a matter of great pride. Nepalis living outside of Nepal have been equally, if not more, excited and see Dhital as an example of how a person from Nepal can make a difference at the international level.

Congratulations Dr. Dhital on your achievement and thank you for being a role model to many. Your success story will inspire many others in the community to craft their own success stories.


[1] Australian Associated Press. "Dead heart transplant 'huge breakthrough'" The Sydney Morning Herald. 24 Oct. 2014. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.
[2] TheMNTVaustralia. "An exclusive interview with Dr. Kumud Dhital." Online video clip. YouTube. 30 Oct. 2014. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.
[3] Sigdel, Chahana. "Nepali doc in ‘dead heart’ transplant." The Kathmandu Post. 27 Oct. 2014. Print.
[4] Khadka, Narayan. "Nepalma sewa dina tayar chhu: Da. Dhital" [Ready to serve in Nepal: Dr. Dhital]. Kantipur. 27 Oct. 2014. Print.
[5] Himalaya TV. "Samaya sandarva with Dr. Kumud Dhital." Online video clip. YouTube. 4 Dec. 2015. Web. 5 Dec. 2015.

About Success Stories
The Success Stories series features achievements by individuals or groups from or with ties to Nepal. In addition to highlighting the contributions to the society, the Success Stories series hopes to promote the inspiration these achievements provide among the community.


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