Doctors during the surgery

By Ike Uchechukwu

The University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH on Wednesday made history by successfully carrying out its first open-heart surgery in the hospital.

The development was disclosed by Chief Medical Director, CMD of the hospital, Prof. Ikpeme Ikpeme in a statement titled: “Today we made history & we move!” made available to newsmen on Thursday.

His words: “Today, Wednesday 15th September 2021, at 6.43 pm, history was made in our UCTH when the first-ever open heart surgery was performed in our hospital and the patient safely wheeled out to our Intensive Care Unit.

“She 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. We must appreciate all staff who made this happen openly,” he said.

Ikpeme revealed that the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU for Open Heart Surgery Missions was signed with the VOOM Foundation sometime around 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 actualise the programme and domesticate open heart surgery in the 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 inter -exchanger 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.”

Prof Ikpeme further stated that the hospital was carrying out those surgeries at 30 per cent of their actual cost.

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

“This programme, therefore, does not belong to any individual or administration, it belongs to UCTH and can only be sustained when we choose to be a TEAM.

“Our commitment is that as we resuscitate basic services, we will strive to introduce higher-end services that will define our existence as a Tertiary centre & contribute to the well-being of our people and community.

“As resources permit, we will continue to work with Departments & Units that demonstrate a hunger for growth. We may not have always gotten it right, sometimes we have faltered, but we are determined to stay the course, under God, and work to develop this UCTH, our UCTH.

“It is the guiding principle of this Management to work quietly to achieve the Vision & 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 & refusing to be distracted,” Ikpeme stated.

Vanguard News Nigeria


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