Ghana has recorded its first open-heart surgery, outside its premier public hospital, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH).
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the renowned Cardiothoracic Surgeon, over the weekend, led a medical team of 10, to replace the damaged mitral valve of a 61-year man with an artificial one at the Providence Specialist Hospital, in Accra.
The move will lead the way for more patients with such heart-related conditions to easily access medical treatment locally at a cost lower than elsewhere.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng, who is also the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said about 12,000 heart-related surgeries are expected to be performed annually in Ghana but only about 200 are done.
“For every population of two million, there should be a heart centre so Ghana ideally needs to have about 15 heart centres in Ghana, “the man who founded the National Cardiothoracic Centre at the KBTH explained.
Explaining the condition of the patient, he said his mitral valve, which is located at the left side of the heart, was damaged so it could no longer facilitate blood flow from his left atrium to the left ventricle, thus resulting in palpitations.
He said it was prudent to correct the condition when the risk was much lower to him; otherwise, he could have suffered a heart failure, which would have then rendered the surgery useless.
Dr Baffoe Gyan, Professor Martin Tamatey, both Heart Surgeons, assisted Prof Frimpong-Boateng to perform the about four-surgery.
Also in the team were Dr Ernest Ofosu Appiah and Mr Tito Nto, both Anaesthetists, Mr Roger Godson, a Clinical Perfusionist and four nurses.
Walking journalists through the surgical procedures, Prof Frimpong Boateng said the patient was first put to sleep, then cleaned up and dripped before his chest and heart were opened up to replace the mitral valve. He was then closed up for the heart to assume its function.
“Let me add that at a point, we had to use a machine to perform the functions of the heat and lung so that we would be able to stop the heart and open it,” he explained.
“We cooled the body to about 28 degrees Celcius to preserve it, and then cooled the heart to about 10 degrees for it to stop so that we could empty it of the blood it was carrying, to enable us to replace the valve.
“When we were done with this, we warmed the heart and the body to their original temperatures and restored their functions to them and stopped the machine”.
The patient would be kept at the Intensive Care Unit for between three and four days, after which he would be transferred to the recovery ward.
The Renowned Cardiothoracic Surgeon said the valve would serve him for the rest of his life and would not make him prone to any heart disease, but rather improve his condition.
“Such surgery would have cost between, $50,000 and $ 70,000 abroad, but in Ghana, it would be less than half that bill,” he noted.
He, therefore, advised those diagnosed with such conditions to seek treatment locally.
The Providence Specialist Hospital, he said, would collaborate with its counterparts in the country towards making heart surgery more accessible to the public rather than competing with them.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng expressed concern about the inadequate heart centres and specialists across the country and, therefore, commended the introduction of free postgraduate training to address the situation concerning specialists.
He lauded the diverse contributions of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor and Jerry John Rawlings, as well as Mr James Osei Brown and Mr Kwasi Osei Ofori towards providing open-heart surgeries for patients in Ghana.
Madam Comfort Bawa, a Cardiac Ward Nurse, explained that mitral valve disease could be acquired through poor eating habits, especially the consumption of a lot of oily and fried foods and the drinking of excessive alcohol.
One could also be born with it.
“Though I do not know what caused our patient’s condition, he reported that he had suffered from it for about 20 years now, therefore, this will be a great relief to him,” she said.
She advised Ghanaians to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day while those diagnosed with the condition should promptly seek medical care.