DOCTORS at the University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan have conducted Nigeria’s first-ever coronary artery by-pass gland open heart surgery without blood transfusion in an unprecedented medical breakthrough.
Celebrated as a landmark in Nigerian healthcare, the surgery was done with the aid of a Toshiba Cardiac Capitalisation Machine which was acquired by the hospital in 2011 and put into use last year.
Both the Nigerian Medical Association and Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals celebrated the achievement as a remarkable breakthrough in surgery. UCH’s chief medical director, Professor Temitope Alonge, said that the concept of open heart surgery was not new in Nigeria but last year, plans were initiated to take the process forward. He added that the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu was the first institution to embark on open heart surgery but the challenges have always been that of equipment, manpower and the ability to sustain it.
Professor Alonge added: “UCH acquired the cardiac capitalisation machine by Toshiba in 2011 and it was installed and put to use in 2013. That allows us to evaluate the state of the arteries supplied by the heart muscles and if, for any reason, there is blockage at the same sitting, the blood vessels can be opened up with the balloon.
“If the damage is extensive, such that we cannot do the balloon and geo-plasty, then we resort to open heart surgery. This technically means that the chest will be split into two, the heart is exposed and the blood entering and leaving the heart is diverted into a machine called the heart-lung machine and we stop the heart.” Dr Felix Faniran, the president of the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals, speaking at a symposium in Ibadan, described the feat as a great breakthrough. He added: “The essence of this symposium is to examine health care practices in the country.
“One of them is what you heard Professor Alonge say. He said they just had a breakthrough in open heart surgery at UCH.” Professor Alonge reiterated that during the operation: “Technically, the person is dead and the blood will be going through the machine and back into the patient as repair work is carried out on the heart and after that, we wake the heart up again. We conduct our open heart surgery at a subsidised rate of N1.5m (£5,700) as against N2.5m (£9,500) in Ghana, so Nigerians do not need to travel abroad again for heart-related operations.”
He added that UCH was launching an endowment fund to assist indigent patients that need open heart surgery. Florence Ajimobi, the Oyo State first lady, praised the cardiology team and its partners Tri-state Cardiovascular Associates, Delaware and the Babcock University for their efforts to save lives.
She added that the good health of every resident is a priority of the state government, pointing out that she values the partnership between her foundation, the Access to Basic medical Care (ABC) and UCH. Mrs Ajimobi said she would continue to provide free qualitative health care services to residents through the ABC clinics and pledged her continued support to UCH.