25 children get free open heart surgery at King Faisal Hospital

Dr Jules Ndayisaba (L) and Joaquin Bielsa, CEO of Oshen-King Faisal Hospital (C), with other officials during the visit at the hospital’s pediatrics wing. Courtesy.

At least 25 children with heart defects have received free open heart surgery at Oshen King Faisal Hospital.

The medical mission, which is spearheaded by Chain of Hope, a children’s charity NGO from Belgium, started on Sunday last week and is set to last for over two weeks during which 29 patients will be operated on.

Catherine de Pierpont, the Coordinator of Chaine de l'Espoir Belgique, said their choice to work with Oshen King Faisal is because of the close collaboration they have had with the hospital for many years and the unique facilities the hospital has.

“We have been working with King Faisal for eleven years now, and our collaboration goes beyond offering treatment, it also extends to skills sharing for the sustainability of the programme,” she said.

Pierpont also noted that the selection of the children who receive treatment is not about affordability and having the resources but rather about being sick and having the opportunity to receive treatment in their own country.

Dr Nathan Ruhamya, the head of Cardiology at Oshen KFH, said the hospital has the best facilities where both adults and pediatrics open heart surgeries can be carried out in the country.

“Our multispecialty team is prepared before the actual event happens, the medical and surgical specialists, anesthesiologist, perfusionists, ICU and theatre nurses, biomedical engineers and all support units collaborate to make this mission a success every year.”

Bringing cardiac surgery to Rwanda

According to Oshen Healthcare management, the idea behind their partnerships with different international institutions is to bring cardiac surgery to Rwanda and minimise the number of transfers abroad.

Andrea Malet, the corporate responsibility manager at Oshen King Faisal, said the aim is to bring more of such missions to the country, and ensuring the sustainability of the programmes.

The patients received free surgeries courtesy to the efforts of the ministry of health in collaboration with Mituelle de sante that catered for 90% of the medical expenses.

Dr Gilles Ndayisaba, the head of Non Communicable Disease Control Department at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, commended the medical mission as very important for availing such laudable services to patients who would otherwise have incurred expenses to access them.

“For patients to access such kind of treatment it calls for expenses or at times seeking treatment abroad but this team has offered their services for free and we are grateful,” he said. 

Ndayisaba says there is a lot that is being done to fight non-communicable diseases in general through various campaigns.

“The other thing is we are planning to set up a centre to treat heart diseases, this will help in accommodating more patients.”

Oshen Healthcare says it plans to have a cardiac surgery unit by next year and a cardiac centre of excellence at King Faisal Hospital by 2020.

It also says it plans to establish the capability and reality of sustainable thoracic and cardiac surgery with the highest standard of care in a timely, compassionate and informed manner.