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Thursday,October 29,2020 03:17 AM

Heart surgery: No need to go abroad

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th October 2007 03:00 AM

YOU probably know about countless appeals channelled by heart disease patients through the media for help. Huge sums of money had to be collected to facilitate the patients’ travel and surgery abroad.

YOU probably know about countless appeals channelled by heart disease patients through the media for help. Huge sums of money had to be collected to facilitate the patients’ travel and surgery abroad.

By Halima Shaban

YOU probably know about countless appeals channelled by heart disease patients through the media for help. Huge sums of money had to be collected to facilitate the patients’ travel and surgery abroad.

While some appeals are genuine, others have turned out to be frauds as conmen look to make a killing in millions.
But all this is now history.

The Uganda Heart Institute’s (UHI) has started carrying out open heart surgery.
According to Dr Craig Sable, the term open refers to the chest, not the heart itself.

He says a heart-lung machine (cardiopulmonary bypass) is usually used during open heart surgery to help provide oxygen-rich blood to the brain and other vital organs.

The machine also pumps and supplies oxygen, removes carbon dioxide from the blood, and provides anesthesia to the the patient.

The chairman, board of directors UHI, Robert Ssebunya, says they had to endure many challenges to get where they are.

“The institute has managed to build capacity in terms of personnel, equipment and collaboration with different partners over a long period of time. Up to sh1b was used to purchase equipment and sundries,” Ssebunya says.

He says the success of the commencement of open heart surgery is an important landmark because it allows Mulago Hospital to realise its vision as a national referral hospital.

The director of the Uganda Heart Institute, Dr John Omagino, says on average, over 20 patients were being sent abroad annually for open heart surgery.

The UHI managed to start the open heart surgery in collaboration with the Hill and Wolfson Children’s Hospital USA, Children’s National Medical Center, University of North California Children’s Hospital, Samaritan’s Purse Uganda, the Larry King Foundation and other cooperate bodies.

“All these have contributed generously in terms of expertise, services, equipment and funding. Patients will pay about sh10.4m,” Ssebuya says.

However, Ssebunya says even if the institute has started to carry out open heart surgery, there are complicated cases like the cardiac catheterisation that it will not handle. “We do not have the equipment, however, the Government has allocated $2.7m to purchase it,” he says.

Sable says cardiac catheterisation is a diagnostic procedure in which a long thin tube called a catheter is placed in a blood vessel and then guided to the heart.

The catheter may be inserted into either arteries or veins, depending on the information needed.

“While stress tests, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms and physical examinations provide considerable information on heart muscle function and the status of the valves and surrounding tissue, these procedures do not yield all the answers.

“Cardiac catheterisation allows the specialist to see an outline of the coronary arteries and more precisely, determine the extent of blockage in these vessels.

“All of the above procedures are used together to obtain as much information as possible so that an accurate diagnosis can be made and proper treatment provided,” Sable says.

Ssebunya noted that one in every 100 children are born with a heart problem and need an operation or they will die.
He says many children are going to benefit from the open heart surgery.

Already, 14 children with heart problems have been selected to be worked on free of charge and four have already benefited and are doing well.

The first open heart surgery in Uganda was carried out in 1967. In the preceding years, patients would be referred to India or South Africa, until last year, when International Hospital Kampala carried out its first open heart surgery.

Ssebunya says since heart surgery requires team work, the institute will continue to collaborate with other international hospitals.

Heart surgery: No need to go abroad

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