Doctors at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi have for the first time performed a successful heart surgery without opening the heart.
They successfully planted a pacemaker to help accelerate the heart-beat of the patient, a teenage girl who was suffering from a hole-in-heart.
It was the first time such a procedure was being used by local doctors in Ghana.
A normal human heart is expected to beat 60 times per minute but patients with a weak heartbeat have beats between 25 and 30 times per minute.
Through surgery, doctors normally plant a pacemaker, [which is a small device] in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms.
The device uses electrical pulses to prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate.
Speaking after the successful operation, the Head of Nursing at KATH, Georgina Afua Sam said the feat achieved was made possible as a result of a collaboration between the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and a Chinese hospital, Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital.
KATH and the Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital have a working Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which is in the form of training, research and providing of equipment to help build the capacities of Ghanaian doctors. About 10 doctors from KATH and the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and some nurses have since been trained by the Chinese team.
During a demonstration by both the Chinese team and their Ghanaian counterparts at KATH, Dr Xie Yumei and another Ghanaian doctor, Amoah Dankwah, also did the first Percutaneous device closure on a teenage girl suffering from a hole-in-heart.
Similar to the pacemaker, the abnormality was corrected without cutting or opening the heart and in about hour’s time, the patient was ready to be discharged.
It was the fifth time the Chinese team was visiting KATH under the programme.
According to the Head of Nursing at KATH, doctors from the Chinese hospital usually visit KATH to help perform surgeries using this method but this time around, a team from Ghana alone performed the surgery using the method.
Aside from the new technologies, the Chinese team led by Lin Chunying and colleagues, Xie Yumei, Liang Yuanchong and Zheng Zhichao, have been conducting open-heart surgeries to correct valves and other defects anytime they visit Ghana.
“In April this year, we signed an MOU with them in China for continued collaboration, capacity building and providing of facilities. For this fifth time, normally when they come, (all the missions) they do open heart surgery and pacemaker. For this time, they didn’t do any open-heart surgery, they did the valve and the replacement in which the heart was not opened. This is the first time in Ghana and this time too it was done at the Komfo Anokye Teaching hospital. We are so happy that our cardiologists had the opportunity to do the first pacemaker surgery which had a lot of benefits for the patient”.
The team leader from the Guangdong Provincial People’s Hospital, Prof. Lin Chunying said in order for Ghanaian doctors to be able to apply the new cardio technique, her outfit through the support from the Chinese government sent some Ghanaian cardiologists to be trained in China.
“From 2014, we have been training doctors in Ghana. The first doctor is Dr. Francis from the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and subsequently, we trained other doctors from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. All of them were under training for one year. They studied PCI, Intervention Operation including Pacemaker. After their training, they came back to Ghana and they tried to do operations themselves. So from 2014, I carried my team to Ghana to help them build their capacities and now they can do pacemaker themselves”.
“I think in the future, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, since they have a Pacemaker team, maybe every week, they can finish Pacemaker themselves to save more lives”.