KIGALI - A team of 53 medical experts from Spokane, US yesterday arrived in the country for two-week volunteer program that will enable 16 Rwandans acquire free open heart surgeries.
The operations will be done at King Faisal Hospital (KFH), the national referral health facility.
According to Dr. Joseph Mucumbitsi, a pediatric cardiologist at KFH and president of the Rwanda Heart Foundation (RHF), the operations set to begin on Monday next week will correct cases of the rheumatic heart disease.
“This is a condition where the heart valves are damaged. During this period, the complete team of US experts will replace or diagnose heart valves of the 16 patients. We selected the patients randomly from various health facilities across the country.
“14 of these are adults while 2 are children. These are free operations because the visiting medics are paying for their own air tickets and have transported the necessary equipment. The Ministry of Health will cover their accommodation and transport costs while here,” Mucumbitsi said.
The official also noted that each year, a team of volunteers visit Rwanda to perform such surgeries.
“Around October last year, the same free operations were done on 24 children and this time round we are happy to have another team that will also operate on adults,” he said.
Medical officials say that such services would have cost about $20,000 for one case abroad however the complete team which includes surgeons, nurses, anesthetists and experts in the Intensive Care Unit will carry out the operations.
Mucumbitsi also noted that the rheumatic condition is a preventable disease adding that the public will soon be sensitized on how to avoid such diseases.
“RHF is planning to run monthly sensitization campaigns on television to remind the public about the preventative measures against such heart conditions,” he added.
Other teams that often visit the country for the same cause include the Chain of Hope group from Belgium and Operation Open Heart, an Australian organization.