Monday, September 28, 2020

Princess Marina makes history with Botswana’s first ever open heart surgery

The Princess Marina Hospital, in conjunction with Mauritian cardiac surgeons, on Thursday January 14th made history as they successfully conducted Botswana’s first ever open heart surgeries on two patients. The epochal medical breakthrough was hailed as a landmark achievement in Botswana’s medical history.

“The successful completion of such complicated and sensitive open heart surgery is a milestone of unfathomable proportions, bearing in mind that such a feat has never been attempted before in the history of this hospital” said Princess Marina Hospital Superintendent Dr Vincent Molelekwa, who was the epitome of joy and elation, at a press conference held to announce the landmark achievement.

Out of 22 patients who were shortlisted for the surgery, only two severe cases were eventually given preference. The first operation was conducted on a 22year old girl whose severe heart ailment crippled her to such an extent that she could not even walk the shortest distance.

Angiography was carried out on the patient. It is a medical imaging technique used to visualize the inside of blood vessels, with particular interest in the arteries, veins and blood chambers .The 3 hour 16 minute operation involved the replacement of a mitral heart valve.

The second operation was conducted on a 40 year old man. The operation involved replacement of an aortic valve. Both operations were very successful and the two patients are presently recuperating in the intensive care unit under the watchful eye of hospital personnel.
Professor Kumar Gunness, the leading cardiac surgeon in a team of eight doctors, assured the public that operations are not a temporal measure but long lasting solutions that are expected to last a lifetime.

Dr Molelekwa expressed gratitude at the guidance that his hospital was accorded by the Mauritian heart surgeons, saying that the surgeries would not have been successful without the medical and surgical expertise of the Mauritian team of doctors, under the leadership of Professor Kumar Gunness.

“We are very grateful and indeed eternally indebted to the Mauritian team for having offered their time, resources and expertise in ensuring the success of this noble achievement” he said.

Prof. Gunness also commended the government of Botswana, especially the Princess Marina medical staff, for working tirelessly to ensure that this historic event comes to fruition. He also said that he was impressed by the team work and cooperation that his team was accorded by the Princess Marina medical staff. At least 5 members of staff from Marina were participating in the surgery, and they reportedly did well during the whole process.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Kolaatamo Malefho also commended the Mauritian cardiac surgeons and the Princess Marina staff for a job well done.

Dr Malefho said that the successful completion of the two heart surgeries is indeed a milestone in Botswana’s medical history, adding that the country will in future save a lot of costs incurred in ferrying patients to South Africa for heart surgery.

“By localizing these operations, Botswana will save approximately 50 to 70% of the total costs that we previously incurred. At the same time, we will be able to offer such services to other countries that do not have the expertise” he said.

He also reiterated government’s commitment to ensuring that the program is a success, saying that they will further lend support by providing more equipment and allowing Batswana to go to Mauritius and acquire more skills.
“Princess Marina has done this nation proud because they have proved to the private sector and the outside world that they can bring quality and
outstanding services “he said.

Prof Gunness announced that the inaugural surgeries mark the beginning of more surgeries to come, further promising that his team will conduct a balloon angioplasty during their next visit.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.