A team of 19 specialists from Reddington Hospital has successfully performed Nigeria’s first complex open-heart surgery on a 66-year-old man who had multiple cardiac problems.
With Nigerians now unable to travel abroad for medical tourism due to the travel ban caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the patient, Mr. Oluwatoyin Adebiyi, said he never thought doctors from Nigeria have the expertise to successfully carry out such a surgery.
At a press briefing held yesterday to announce the feat, the Group Medical Director, Reddington Hospital Group, Dr. Tunde Lalude, said the complex surgery included a coronary artery bypass graft, repair of mitral valve, as well as intervention made in his kidneys and other related vital organs.
He said: “The complex surgery performed by the new Tristate Reddington Cardiac Programme, involved stopping the patient’s heart and putting him on a heart-lung machine.
“The heart was opened to repair the mitral valve and the three blocked vessels to the heart were bypassed. The heart was then successfully restarted.
“This interesting operation happened in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis and by a 100 per cent team of 19 Nigerian doctors, nurses and other experts who live and work in the country.”
He explained that when the patient was first brought to the hospital, he had episodes of fainting with his heart rate at 35 beat, adding that with diagnosis, it was obvious his case was critical and would need a timely but complex solution.
“With our critical care unit fully equipped, we took him in, brainstormed with the team on how to go about his treatment. Interestingly, our Tristate Reddington Cardiac Programme has been planning on when to start these surgeries. However, the gentleman’s case made it a lot faster for us. The surgery is the most complex open-heart surgery ever done in Nigeria. We didn’t start this programme with easy treatment; we started with the most complex one. We are proud of the outcome. No one can have a better outcome even in developed countries than what we did here.
“This complex surgery demonstrates our ability to expand the range of what is possible in Nigeria particularly at this time when foreign access is highly limited. We now offer a full range of cardiology services with 24/7 emergency availability. Reddington now has an upgraded ICU, and we have trained critical care doctors on the use of the unit,” he added.
Adebiyi, who is presently recovering after the seven-hour surgical operation, said when his health deteriorated in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown, he thought this was the end as no one was allowed to leave the country for treatment abroad.
“I thank God for giving me the opportunity to live again. I can’t remember how I got to Reddington Hospital, but when I became conscious, I saw an Indian doctor, and I was at peace, thinking he was the person who would lead my treatment process. After the surgery, I realised everyone who attended to me are Nigerians. They saved my life. I owe them and God this life I am in now,” he stated.
He explained that he was still surprised at his return to life, adding that he never believed anything good would come out of Nigeria.
“Nigerians do not have any reason to go abroad for treatments which can successfully be administered here,” he said.
The head of the surgical team, Prof. Kamar Adeleke, said the COVID-19 pandemic had shown that every country needed to look inward for solutions, adding that with borders closed, the Tristate Reddington Cardiac Programme is ready to offer treatments to complex heart issues, as it has a duty to help Nigerians with such conditions.
He said: “This underscores potential Nigeria has. What you are looking for in Sokoto is right here in your pants. Reddington practically has everything needed for the success we are celebrating today. It contributed 99 per cent of what you are seeing, but the remaining one per cent was also very vital, which we sourced from outside.”
On how the surgical process went, Adeleke, who is a Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, said when the team first realised the patient’s heart rate was fast going low, it gave him a temporary pacemaker, which enabled him breathe normally and then embarked on the seven-hour repair of the patient’s leaking valves and other issues, emphasising that the 19 team members are experts from different areas.
He said: “The following day, the patient went into complete kidney failure, but because we had all expertise here, the kidneys were worked on and in a few days, his body system started working perfectly.
“COVID-19 has let us know that we cannot depend on outside forever. No one can go out of this country anymore. We will be doing things on our own henceforth. That is what this pandemic has thought us.
“COVID-19 is a blessing in disguise for Nigeria. France said they will produce the vaccine and will only administer it to its citizens. India said the same thing. The rest of the world will follow suit with this. So, the best Nigeria can do is to look inward.”
He said with the interstate ban on travels, it was important hospitals like Reddington were replicated in all states of the federation for easy accessibility to patients.