Team Heart, a group of heart surgeons and nurses from Brigham Women’s Hospital (BWH) Boston, USA, has been voluntarily treating heart patients in a third program of open heart surgery hosted by the Ministry of Health.
The group of 34, including a bio med engineer, and a pharmacist, 16 nurses, two respiratory therapists, two perfusionists, two faculty cardiac surgeons, and two anesthesiologists, in collaboration with King Faisal Hospital (KFH) and Partners in Health (PIH), performed surgery on patients suffering from the effects of Rheumatic Valvular Heart Disease.
In a Friday press conference to wrap up the programme, pediatric cardiologist and coordinator of the program at KFH, Dr. Joseph Mucumbitsi, explained that this year’s focus has been on rheumatic diseases.
These are caused by dental or throat infections being left untreated and thus require open heart surgery to correct valvular defects in children and young adults.
‘‘This highly expensive and complicated surgery involves stopping the patient’s heart and using a ‘by-pass pump’ to do its work while the patient’s heart is operated upon and patients usually need to be sent abroad at great cost,’’ reads a Team Heart press release.
‘‘It is very expensive to send patients to India. This means that when we do it here, we are saving a lot of money,’’ Mucumbitsi agreed. Collaboration with local doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease patients is a key objective.
Others include providing urgently needed surgical procedures for heart disease patients and provision of in-service training aimed at enhancing the skills of local medical, nursing and allied health staff.
This week, Team Heart performed surgical procedures on patients who otherwise would not be able to have the surgery that will prevent deterioration of the heart.
‘‘We have operated on 11 Rwandans,’’ confirmed chief of cardiac surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, R. Morton Bolman III, MD.