US medical volunteers offer free cardiac surgery

A group of 35 doctors and nurses from Boston, known as Team Heart, are in Kigali for the seventh annual surgical trip aimed at providing free heart surgery to teenagers and young adults with heart defects.
 The visiting team of  US surgeons operate on a patient at King Faisal Hospital on Wednesday. John Mbanda.
The visiting team of US surgeons operate on a patient at King Faisal Hospital on Wednesday. John Mbanda.

A group of 35 doctors and nurses from Boston, known as Team Heart, are in Kigali for the seventh annual surgical trip aimed at providing free heart surgery to teenagers and young adults with heart defects.

The free cardiac surgery, that started on Tuesday, is being conducted from King Faisal Hospital in Kigali and a total of 16 heart patients are to be operated on.

“We are returning to Rwanda for our seventh surgical trip. We have been providing this service for the last seven years to teenagers and young adults suffering from heart diseases,” said, Ceeya Bolman, the team leader. They also train local medical personnel.

“We always operate on 16 patients, two each day,” Bolman said.

Bolman said there is need for concerted efforts on prevention of heart disease, adding that it can be treated if detected early.

Western and Southern provinces have the highest cases of heart problems in the country affecting mostly teenagers, according to statistics.

“We need to be here more often because we think there could be more than 2,000 patients in need of surgery. We cannot operate on all of them now because we can only operate on 16 patients during each trip,” she said.

 She added that as a long-term strategy, they will partner with Rwanda to provide the best care possible.

“We must work together to deliver the best care possible because Rwanda deserves that. A 16-year -old girl here in Rwanda deserves the same chance as her age-mate in the US,” Bolman said

Team Heart started providing free cardiac surgery in Rwanda since 2007 and during their latest tour, they operated on their 100th patient.

 

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