Nigeria records first devised closure of hole in the heart

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By Chioma Obinna
A Nigeria hospital, for the first time in the history of West Africa, has recorded a land mark achievement in the field of medicine when it successfully pioneered the first devised closure of a hole in the heart called “Patent Ductus Arteriosus” (PDA) by non surgical intervention in a three-year -old child.

PDA is a congenital heart disease commonly seen in early childhood. It occurs when the hole fails to close at birth for various reasons.  The hole causes oxygenated blood leaving the heart through the aorta to be pushed back into the right side of the heart causing lung congestion, pulmonary hypertension and enlargement of the heart.

Announcing the medical feat which was successfully done on October 29 this year at a press conference in Lagos Wednesday, Acting Medical Director, Dr. Olu Lawani of the foremost hospital, Reddington, Lagos explained that the procedure, which was said to be 100 per cent successful, involves using a small device that is inserted through a vein in the groin to repair the hole without opening the chest.

The procedure was carried out by a team of Nigerian Cardiologists led by Dr. Adeyemi Johnson, a Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at the Reddington Hospital, another Consultant Paediatric Interventional Cardiologist at the Lagos State University Collage of Medicine (LASUCOM) and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUCOM/LASUTH), Dr. Adeola Animasahun and Dr Sola Idowu, a consultant Anaesthetist and Critical Care at the Reddington Hospital.

Lawani, who noted that the procedure is traditionally done with open heart surgery explained that advances in cardiology have made it possible to repair the hole using a small device that is inserted through the vein in the groin sparing the patient pains of opening the heart and long period of hospital admission.

Stating that the achievement was made possible following intense collaboration between doctors at the hospital and LASUCOM/LASUTH in the spirit of Private Partnership (PPP), he said the high – tech procedure was carried out in their state of the art, Advanced Digital cardiac Catheterization suites (CATHLAB), he said “The hospital was able to record the feat due to the fact that it possesses the where_with_all in terms of medical infrastructure such as latest medical technologies to carry out the procedure and also has the only cardiologist trained in that area of medical specialisation.”

Lawani said though the procedure is a common practice in other parts of the world, it was the first of its kind in Nigeria and West Africa at large.

Up till now, the only way this cardiac abnormality has been treated in Nigeria is through very complex surgery that involves Thoracotomy (cutting up the chest cage to have access to the heart)

Noting that there are many mor children who are still in chronic ill – health as a result of a heart ailment who are yet to get sponsorship, he announced that as their contribution to the landmark, the hospital has decided to crash their charges regarding the treatment of the patient in the facility come January 2011.

Speaking, a Consultant Anaesthetist, Dr. Sola Idowu said the common practice in such a situation was to seduce the patient and open him/her up while the operation lasts, but in this case, the procedure was carried out in the presence of the patient but was forced to give slight sedative since she is a child.

A Consultant Paediatric Interventional Cardiologist at LASUCOM/LASUTH, Dr Adeola Animashun explained that the devise closure of PDA has the advantage of shorter procedure time, shorter hospital stay and no scar is left behind.

Also, a Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Dr Yemi Johnson explained that since the commissioning of their CATHLAB two years ago, the hospital have been able to perform 50 successful cases of heart procedures.

Also, speaking, the parents of the three year old child, Mr & Mrs Ikechukwu Onuoha who was overwhelmed with joy recounted how the problem was discovered two weeks after Victoria’s birth.

The Onuohas commended the doctors as well as the sponsors of the device, Edensfield Health Foundation for their gesture.

Representative of the NGO, Edensfield Health Foundation, who sponsored the device, Dr. Anire Asumah recalled that the organisation had wanted to send the child outside the country when they learnt that it could be done here in Nigeria faster and cheaper.

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