No fewer than 11 children between the ages of six and 12 with holes in the lower chamber of their hearts will from Monday next week undergo open heart surgery to correct the anomalies which prevent them from either growing or feeding properly.
The Group Medical Director, Garki Hospital, Dr. Elijah Milner, while briefing the press yesterday in Abuja, disclosed that the surgeries would help to reverse medical tourism through which hundreds of billions of dollars are lost yearly to other countries offering similar medical services.
He said these were part of the free heart surgeries started by the hospital last year, adding that the current round of surgeries were under the second phase of the initiative.
“We are interested in giving back to the society especially to needy Nigerian children whose parents cannot afford the surgery. We have had the first session of these surgeries; this is the second and presently, we have 11 children so far who are ready to be operated upon in the next few days. And we believe that things will go on successfully.
“There are many sick children in various states of the federation who cannot afford the cost of heart surgeries, so we are looking at ways to ensure that these children will be operated upon freely.
“The greatest problem is that we are very sceptical in Nigeria, but the people we have on ground, the lead surgeon, a Nigerian who works with one of the best and largest children’s hospitals in the world, came in with other experts in the field to help his fatherland at no cost,” he said. Milner noted that the hospital was embarking on a year’s programme that would see about 200 people benefit from free heart surgeries.
“We want to prove to the world that Nigeria and Nigerians can handle these types of cases successfully and that the outcomes are evidence-based and very successful. “We have a team of about 12 people available from the leading hospitals in the world working on knowledge transfer and in the next one year, we plan to do this on 200 patients.
“A larger part of our population go to other countries to seek medical help, but we want to tell them that the help they seek elsewhere is available right here in their country,” he explained.
Published: 16 Jun 2015. By Kasim Sumaina
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