An all-Nigerian surgical team, including local surgeons and foreign-based workers carried out cardiac surgeries in Abuja, last month.
They fixed holes in the heart of one patient, replaced faulty valves with mechanical valves in three patients, bypassed a blockage in another patient and opened narrow exit valves in another.
At the end of the surgeries at Garki Hospital, Dr John Okereke, Head of the surgical team said, 'the level of heart surgery in Nigeria is so bad that most hospitals would be unprepared to handle a heart attack patient even with three days prior notice.'
He said, "If you give three days' notice to any hospital now, that someone is going to have a severe attack in three days, what are they going to do? In three days, they are still not ready to do anything. That's how bad it is.
"In Houston, we boast that if the ambulance calls us with a heart attack case, the patient is in cath[eterisation] lab or operating room within 30 minutes. That's good it is."
"The surgeon, the anaesthesist standing over you [are] Nigerians. If they can do it there, why can't they do it here? The only difference is attitude. That's how bad our services are, and a lot of Nigerians are dying of heart disease."
The surgical team, including: Philadelphia-based perfusionist Nikki Ipaye and anaesthesist Ade Talabi, who has relocated from Houston to Nigeria in the last one month, have successfully done 32 heart surgeries since 2013, inching closer to an ambitious goal to site a world-class cardiac centre in Abuja, run by Nisa-Garki Hospitals, the country's first experiment in public-private partnership in healthcare.
Another set of patients have been screened into the cardiac programme and are due for surgery in as early as a month.
"We don't have enough facilities to deal with all the heart problems we have in Nigeria," said Okereke. "If we have 40 heart surgeons in Nigeria today, each doing four hearts every day, we will not finish in 80 years. That's how serious it is."
The centre is expected to make cardiac surgeries as routine as every single month, drawing back foreign exchange lost to medical tourism and training local surgeons, according to Dr Elijah Miner, chief medical director of Garki Hospital.
Dr. Okezika J. Okereke bagged his M.B.B.S at the University of Nigeria, Enugu State, Nigeria in 1975. He works in San Benito, Texas and specializes in Thoracic Surgery and General Surgery.
I think he (Dr. Okereke) just opened a can of worms with his statements...covering my face.
All the same, great job Sir.