An open-heart surgery to replace a damaged mitral valve with an artificial one on a sixty-one-year-old man has successfully being conducted for the first time outside the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH).
The mitral valve located at the left side of the heart was damaged and could no longer facilitate blood flow from the left atrium to the left ventricle and resulted in palpitation.
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and Renown Cardiothoracic Surgeon, led a medical team at the Providence Specialist Hospital to perform the surgery at the weekend in Accra.
The team included Dr Baffoe Gyan, Heart Surgeon, Professor Martin Tamatey, Heart Surgeon, Dr Ernest Ofosu Appiah, Anesthetist, Mr Tito Nto, Anesthetist and Mr Roger Godson, a Clinical Perfusionist and other four nurses.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng said the condition if not corrected at the time where the risk was low and beneficial to the patient, could have led to heart failure and surgery could no longer solve the problem.
Walking journalists through the procedure, he explained that the patient was put to sleep; cleaned, dripped, opened the chest and the heart to replace the mitral valve and closed the wounds in the heart in order to make it assume its function.
“Let me add that at a point in the process we had to transfer the function of the heart and the lungs to a heart/lung machine…because we could not open the heart if it was working,” he explained.
“The body was cooled to about 28 degrees for preservation and then cooled the heart to about 10 degrees so it stopped working and empties the blood in it to enable us to replace the valve”.
“After, we warmed the heart and the body to the original temperature and transferred its function back to it from the machine”.
The Renown Cardiothoracic Surgeon said the patient would be kept in the Intensive Care Unit between 3 to 4 days and later to the recovery ward.
He said the valve would last for the rest of the life of the patient and would not make the patient prone to any heart disease but would rather improve the life of the patient.
Such a surgery, he stated costs between $50,000 to $70,000 abroad, which he noted is much lesser in Ghana.
He urged the public diagnosed with such condition not to travel abroad for treatment because it could be done in Ghana at a cheaper rate.
The Providence Health Hospital, he said would collaborate with all other specialist facilities in the country to help make heart health surgery accessible to the public but not to compete.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng commenting on the prevalence rate of the condition in the country said there were people with such conditions but there were few facilities and specialists.
“In a year, we are supposed to do about 12,000 heart-related surgeries but I do not think we currently do up to 200,” he said.
For every two million population, there should be a heart centre to cater for them. Ideally, Ghana needs to have about 15-heart centres to serve the people.
He eulogized President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor, Jerry John Rawlings, Mr James Osei Brown and Mr Kwesi Osei Ofori for their diverse support for making open-heart surgery possible in the country.
Madam Comfort Bawa, a Cardiac Ward Nurse said the two main causes of mitral valve was by birth or acquired through lifestyle such as eating a lot of fried oily and excessive drinking.
“I cannot tell the cause of this patient but it has been disturbing him for the past 20 years and this will be a relief for him,” she said.
Madam Bawa advised the public to regularly exercise at least 30 minutes a day and those diagnosed with the condition to seek medical care early to correct the condition.