A team of cardiothoracic surgeons from the United Kingdom (UK) and the United State of America (USA) has, in collaboration with cardiothoracic surgeons at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, successfully corrected cardiac defects in 19 Ghanaians.
While 11 of the patients were provided with modern pace makers as part of the surgery, eight received artificial heart valves to keep them healthy.
When the Daily Graphic visited the Intensive Care Unit of the Accident and Emergency Centre of the hospital where the patients are recuperating on Monday, all of them were found to be in high spirits.
Some were seen interacting with members of the medical team.
One of the beneficiaries, Grace Ofori Antwi, 24, was beside herself with joy and thanked the team for the gesture.
She also thanked the authorities of KATH for their collaboration with the foreign medical team and expressed the hope that the gesture would be extended to other needy patients.
The beneficiaries paid no fees for the surgeries, which were performed two weeks ago.
According to the team, four more patients would be operated upon before the surgeons left the country this weekend.
“Without them, I would have died because I could not have raised money to pay for a heart surgery,” Grace said.
The Team leader, Dr Uday Dandekar, said each patient supported with a pace maker would have paid $6,700 for the surgery, while those provided with artificial heart valves would have paid $20,000 each.
In an interview, Dr Dandekar said the team’s current visit was the third to KATH so far.
“We are a team of volunteers from different parts of the world and on each visit we perform free heart surgeries on patients and also donate containers full of medical supplies and consumables worth thousands of dollars to KATH,” he said.
He recalled that during their first visit to KATH in 2009, they performed nine surgical operations, while 11 patients with cardiac problems were operated on during the second visit two years ago.
Dr Dandekar expressed concern over the condition of some heart patients the team could not perform surgery on during the latest visit.
He said the team screened over 50 patients whose conditions were critical “but we will manage to perform surgical operations for only 23 because the team can stay in Ghana for only two weeks”.
“Those who do not benefit from our gesture will have to wait till our next visit,” he said.
He appealed to the Ministry of Health and philanthropists in the country to support the authorities of KATH with funds to train heart surgeons in India and Belgium.
He noted that KATH had medical officers who had the potential to become first-class heart surgeons and listed cardiac care nurses, theatre nurses, cardiac anaesthetists and biomedical engineers as some of those who needed to be supported abroad to improve their capacities.
Story: George Ernest Asare