A total of 23 heart patients have successfully undergone surgery and are recovering steadily at King Faisal Hospital [KFH] in Kacyiru.
The successful operations were undertaken in a period of two weeks by a team of 40 voluntary heart specialists that included doctors, nurses and laboratory staff from Australia, Belgium and America. The team arrived in the country early this month.
“I am so happy,” smiled Alphonsine Mukakamali, the mother of a ten month old baby. The child, born with a heart problem, was among the 23 successful cases registered by the volunteers.
“Before, it could not breast feed well and its body colour had started to change,” she recounted. The child will be discharged on Friday this week and return home to Nyagatare district with its mother.
This arrangement of undertaking such surgeries started in 2006 after Hope Rwanda, a non governmental organisation, liaised with heart specialists in developed countries to annually offer free heart services to the country which lacks qualified personnel.
Since then, 77 heart patients have been successfully operated on.
Alphonsine Kaitetsi, who had two children suffering from heart conditions, could not hide her relief and joy.
Pointing at Alex Furaha, 15, with bandages still visible on his chest, Kaitetsi recalled,” He stopped studying for two years and would cough uncontrollably.”
Dr. Joseph Mucumbitsi said that the hospital is faced with many patients with heart conditions referred from around the country. He hailed the voluntary medical work done by the specialists.
“It would require USD 8000 to USD 10, 000 to take these patients for surgery to a country like India,” he said. He added that there will soon be a survey to ascertain how much the Rwandan population is affected by heart conditions.
The team of voluntary heart specialists is comprised of Operation Open Heart from Australia, Chain of hope from Belgium and Team Heart from Brigham and Women’s hospital.
Mucumbitsi said that the teams also provided, “…in-service training aimed at enhancing the skills of local medical, nursing and allied health staff.”
Bullock Andrew, an Australian cardiologist on the team, said that since 2006 the training that has been carried out in Rwanda’s health system had led to rapid improvements especially in “confidence and professionalism” when handling heart conditions.