US medics here for heart surgery

A team of US doctors arrived in the country last week on a mission to treat heart patients, a charitable exercise coordinated by King Faisal Hospital (KFH) in Kigali.

A team of US doctors arrived in the country last week on a mission to treat heart patients, a charitable exercise coordinated by King Faisal Hospital (KFH) in Kigali.

Dr. Joseph Mucumbitsi, the Head of Cardiology Department at KFH, confirmed the presence of the team with the necessary medical equipment.

“We have received the first group with their drugs and equipment such as heart-lung machine to be used in the exercise,” he said. Five experts had arrived in the country by Thursday, but the number was expected to rise to 34, Mucumbitsi said.

The team was due to start heart operations on Saturday, and officials say at least 15 adult patients had been short-listed for heart surgery.

The heart-lung machine, valued at $2m (about Frw1b) is the second such equipment following the one donated by Australian heart medics team.

This is the third charitable heart operation since 2006 when the first surgery was conducted at KFH by health experts from Australia.

The second such surgeries jointly conducted by Australian and Belgian experts in October-November involved 28 children and four adult patients.

In August last year, Israel’s Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), helped save four Rwandan children from heart disease. At the time, the Government paid half of the hospital charges for surgical operations at Wolfson Medical Centre in Tel-Aviv, Israel.

The Government parted with $10,000 (about Frw5.4m) for two of the children, while operations on two others were carried out free of charge.

The four, all aged below 15 years, were the first batch of Rwandan children to be operated from Israeli Medical Centre at the support of SACH.

Those successful operations were followed by a visit by a SACH medical team to KFH in March, 2008, during which they diagnosed more than a dozen children with heart related diseases.

Dr. Mucumbitsi, also the Head of Rwanda Heart Foundation (RHF), believes that with the help of such health volunteers, a number of heart patients will bounce back to good health.

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