KIGALI - A visiting team of heart specialists from Spokane, in the US, in conjunction with doctors at King Faisal Hospital (KFH) in Kigali, have successfully carried out open heart surgeries on 16 patients in the past one week.
This was revealed yesterday by the Acting Chief Executive Officer of KFH, Dr. Alex Butera, during a press conference that was held at the hospital premises.
Dr. Harold R. Goldberg, who led the team of 53, explained that the surgeries were mainly done to correct cases of the rheumatic heart disease adding that most patients had their heart valves either repaired or replaced.
“Heart surgery is one of the most complicated procedures and we made sure that we organize a complete team of experts as well as the necessary equipment to operate on all these patients.
“We are therefore happy that we have delivered what we promised and today most of the patients have been discharged,” Goldberg noted.
The president of the Rwanda Heart Foundation and a pediatric cardiologist at KFH, Dr. Joseph Mucumbitsi, added that two of those operated on were children.
He advised that in order to avoid such heart diseases, it is imperative that Rwandans take time to exercise, eat healthy and take time to go for regular checkups so that such problems can be detected in their earlier stages.
Citing the impact of volunteer groups like the Spokane team, Mucumbitsi said that similar surgeries would be very expensive without this kind of arrangement.
“We are therefore very grateful that the team came to perform these surgeries free for the patients yet under normal circumstances, these services would have cost over $20,000 for one case abroad,” Mucumbitsi noted.
Twenty-nine year old Eulade Mugemangango who had stooped his farming work due to general weakness of the heart condition told of his improving condition, saying he already felt stronger.
“My sole source of income is farming. Unfortunately due to my heart condition, I had stopped work and the situation at home was getting worse by the day. Only four days after my operation, I am able to climb stairs which is something I could not do,” the Huye based patient narrated.
The cardiologists estimated that with tuberculosis and malaria at hand, there is a risk that heart diseases could worsen the mortality rate in the near future.
They therefore called upon citizens to immediately seek medical treatment when cases of sore throat – a major symptom of the disease arise.
Several other teams from Belgium and Australia have also visited the country for the same cause.