Namibia Conquers Open-Heart Surgery

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By Petronella Sibeene

WINDHOEK

Namibia yesterday became the third country on the continent, after South Africa and Egypt, to have a Cardiac Unit and to conduct successful heart operations.

Four open-heart surgeries have been conducted on female patients aged between 16 and 18 years at Windhoek Central Hospital since Monday.

A total of eight operations are expected to be conducted by Friday.
A combined team of 12 health professionals from South Africa’s Groote Schuur Hospital (famed for the first heart transplant in 1967) is conducting the operations.

The team is made up of cardiologists and cardio thoracic surgeons, anaesthetists, theatre and ICU nurses and one paediatric cardiac surgeon from Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

All the cases handled so far involve replacement of heart valves, which were diseased through rheumatic fever complications. If not treated, the condition can lead to heart failure, low quality of life and patients are susceptible to infections and various other health problems.

Delegation head of the South African Health Professions, Peter Zilla, confirmed yesterday that all the patients were recuperating well and a visit to the wards found that some of them were already able to speak.

“Everything is working great. If there was something wrong, we would have already known. So far so good,” he confirmed.

He added that political will is always key for such programmes, as some countries in the past 20 years have tried to establish such units but due to lack of political involvement, they failed.

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