Breaking: Relief as UCTH successfully performs first open heart surgery

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The Chief Medical Director(CMD) of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) has disclosed that the tertiary health institution has performed its first open heart surgery on Wednesday, September 15, 202, being the first to do so in the South South region of the country.

Prof Ikpeme, who made this known in Calabar, Thursday, in a press statement, said the patient “had received a mitral valve replacement following about six and a half hours of surgery.”

“This has been the culmination of two years of hard work, determination, sacrifice, vision and focus at different levels of our hospital. And we must offer sincere gratitude to God and all who worked to make this happen.

“It is the guiding principle of this management to work quietly to achieve the vision and mission of our hospital and reposition her appropriately in the comity of tertiary health institutions in Nigeria. We have driven this agenda by focusing steadily on the 3R mantra and refusing to be distracted.”

Explaining how the feat was achieved, the CMD said said,h “the MOU for Open Heart Surgery Missions was signed with the VOOM Foundation sometime in 2015/16.”

According to him, “Things went quiet until the MOU was reviewed with the Foundation in July/August 2019 and UCTH made a commitment to actualize the programme & domesticate open heart surgery in our hospital. After two years of sacrificial hard work, doggedness, critical planning and determination against many odds, here we are today.

“We have had to construct a new Theatre Suite using in-house Engineering and Technical teams, we had to create a multidisciplinary Heart Surgery Team; we had to clear 2Nos 40ft containers from Onne Port, Port Harcourt and invest in equipment worth millions of Naira (Heart-Lung machine, Heater-Cooler interexchanger system, cell savers, High end Anaesthetic Machine, high end monitors, Defibrillator with Internal pads, ventilators, digital mobile x-ray system, etc. Hours of work went into this project.

“As far as I know, we are the first Tertiary Health Institution in South-South Nigeria to accomplish this, and join a group of very few elite centres nationwide. And at this early stage, we are offering these surgeries at 30 percent of their actual cost.”

The Professor of Orthopaedics (joint replacement services) and 8th CMD of UCTH commended the Minister of Health and the Federal Ministry of Health for granting approval with insistence on skills transfer.

“Our surgeons led this effort actively and some team members came from across the country. We thank the Board Chairman and the Governing Board for giving us the “wings to fly”. To the Cardiothoracic Unit & the Heart Surgery Team led by Prof Etiuma, I say Thank you,” Prof Ikpeme said.