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Nigerian Hospital solves hole-in-heart problem without surgery

in this report, Steve Dada narrates the courageous and heroic feat embarked upon by a Nigerian hospital.

Barely a year after the cardiovascular specialist healthcare institution, Reddington Hospital, successfully performed the first cardiac catheterisation in the country, the hospital has recorded another medical feat by performing Nigeria’s first devised closure of a hole-in-the-heart without surgery.

The latest landmark achievement known as Patient Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) by non-surgical intervention performed on three-year-old child, Victoria Onuoha, in a procedure hitherto traditionally done with open heart surgery was done with a small device that is inserted through a vein in the groin.

The Acting Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Olu Lawani, yesterday explained that the achievement was made possible following an intense collaboration between doctors at the Reddington Hospital and LASUCOM/LASUTH in a spirit of Public Private Partnership (PPP).

PDA is a congenital heart disease commonly seen in early childhood, which is a condition where 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 congestions, pulmonary hypertension and enlargement of the heart,” he said.

According to Lawani, the first report on the device closure of PDA was observed in 1967 by Porstmann and had gained wide acceptance and used all over the world since then, “but this is the first report of using this mode of treatment for PDA in West Africa”.

Lawani said the team of doctors who performed the operation deserved to be congratulated for their courage and skilfulness in pioneering the historic event in Nigeria and possibly the first in West Africa.

“I have to use the word ‘courage’ because a lot of people were very nervous about the likely outcome of this procedure being the first to be performed in Nigeria using fully indigenous expertise,” he noted.

It is cheery news for sufferers of cardiovascular complication who patronise Reddington Hospital for medical attention as the hospital has completed arrangements to crash its charges on ailments to accommodate more patients who, due to financial constraints, cannot attend the hospital for treatment.

Lawani said money was not paramount in the operations and services of the hospital but “first and foremost to offer humanitarian services to the general public”, noting that situation in the country today called for that.

He said the management “has appointed an external consultant to look into how our hospital charges can be brought down considerably so that a lot of Nigerians can access and utilise the huge capacity we have to offer at the Reddington Hospital at affordable cost. We are hoping the new low price regime would be effective from January 2011.

“It is our belief that there are many more children who are still in chronic ill-health as a result of heart ailment who are yet to get help for sponsorship, to benefit from this definitive cure. As our contribution to this landmark event, the management of the Reddington Hospital took a decision to wave our own charges regarding the treatment of this patient in our facility.”

The father of the baby, Mr. Kenneth Onuoha, explained that he and his wife observed that the heartbeat of Victoria, who was born in 2007, was too fast.

She was inactive, vomiting and regularly running temperature, which prompted them to take her to a hospital at Bariga, Lagos State, where they reside, but the hospital could not handle the case for which they were referred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) where the baby was diagnosed with congenital heart complication.

Consultant Paediatric Interventional Cardiologist at LASUTH, Dr. Adeola Animasahun, a member of the team that performed the procedure, explained that cases of congenital heart disease (CHD) are very common now in the country, occurring 6-8 in 1,000 live births. PDA 1 occurs in 2,500 births, common in females and most common in people that live in high altitude.

Victims in the past were just dying because of lack of equipment for diagnosis of such conditions, she said, noting that there are advancements in the country’s medical technology that could make healthcare institutions to detect such complications now and for that more and more cases are being discovered in the hospitals.