The Cardiac Centre at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) has succeeded in filling holes in patients’ hearts by using a special device without opening up the chest as is usually done, medical reports at the MNH have confirmed.

Dr Hussein Kidanto, acting director general of the hospital, said that the use of special devices to treat heart ailments started last months, with 18 patients put to scanning on heart blood vessels and four being treated of blocked vessels.
A major treatment was to fill up a hole in the heart to allow blood vessels to reach a hole, which some infants are born with such a condition, he said.
In conducting those operations, specialist doctors at MNH worked with visiting heart specialists from the Prince Sultan Cardiac Centre in Riyadh, kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who paid a medical visit at the national facility from May 8 to 16, invited via the good offices of Muntanda Islamic Trust of Britain.
Dr Kidanto said that the surgery bypass operation has great advantages to close a heart hole or unblock a vessel without opening up the chest, as it enables the patient to be discharged within two days of operation. Earlier the patient would need seven days of hospitalisation and if no complications arise he or she would be discharged, he said.
This also provides opportunity for other patients to be operated upon in the same way, enabling more treatments by a less costly and more efficient way. The patient later continues with his or her income generating activities as there is no lingering wound on that operation, he specified.
The top Muhimbili official noted that in calendar 2014 about 400 patients were sent to India for various treatments, with about half of the number being treated for heart ailments, noting that about 10,000 dollars (about sh20million) is usually required for a heart patient to be sent to India.
Medical experts resident in the country were fast catching up with the method and capable of using that equipment on their own, and accounted for most of the 66 operations that would have cost Sh1.3 billion had they been sent out of the country, he elaborated.
With its catharsis laboratory facility now being used to fill up holes in the heart by a special device and using stent equipment to unblock vessels in the heart, Muhimbili National Hospital is becoming the sub-region’s reference point in that field of medication, he asserted.
Among visiting medical teams helping to launch the new method in heart treatment in the country, a two man mission from Virginia in the United States was led by Prof. Peter Obrien, accompanied by a nursing officer to operate the catharsis laboratory.
The two arrived in the country on April 13 and ended their camping stint on April 17, with about 18 patients undergoing unblocking of vessels by use of stent device, where the team worked with doctors from the heart surgery unit at the Bugando Referral Hospital and retired doctors at MNH.
 A second medical team with 11 specialists in heart surgery arrived from the Mission Hospital in Madras, India led by Prof. Ravi, who specialises in heart surgery for children. The team conducted 42 heart surgeries in a period of six days, Dr Kidanto noted.
The third group of heart surgery specialists was in the country from May 8 to 16 from the Riyadh Heart Institute in Saudi Arabia led by Dr Abdulrahman Redhyan, a consulting adviser on children’s heart ailments.
The team had 32 specialists including heart surgeons for adults and children, heart anesthesia specialists, nursing specialists for intensive care unit for children and other medical experts.
Muhimbili officials expect a fourth specialist group of three people in the Africa Doctors group from the University of South Carolina led by Prof. Eric Powers, a consulting adviser on heart diseases, Dr Kidanto said.
A further group of medical experts, Save a Child’s Heart from Israel is expected on June 28 to July 5, with the visiting teams helping to treat patients and provide much needed training for local specialists, noting further that another group of specialists will enter the country on July 1 from Turkey.
Meanwhile, Muhimbili Orthopedic Institute (MOI) in collaboration with neurosurgeons from Weill Cornell Medical Centre in New York, US has successfully performed spinal surgery on 20 patients in the country saving USD 100,000 in the process. 
According to MOI Executive Director Dr Othman Kiloloma, the operations which started on Monday to yesterday (Friday) were performed on patients who would have otherwise been taken abroad for further medication. 
The operations were performed by Tanzanian surgeons after undergoing a two-day training seminar conducted by specialists from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, USA.
Addressing reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday Dr Kiloloma said that a total of 20 patients with spinal and head problems have successfully undergone a surgery.
Prof. Philip Stieg, the chairman of Neurological Surgery from Weill Cornell Medical College said that they were happy with the government of Tanzania for allowing them to share their experience with Tanzanians as they have been doing it for a long time.
“We have shared our experience with surgeons here at MOI and kindly hope that this training is going to benefit Tanzanians with spinal problems” Prof. Stieg said.
“As you know here in the city major accidents are caused by motorbikes, we also expect that surgeons will manage to serve them well” he noted.
He also called upon the patients to attend to the hospital as majority of patients here in Tanzania go to hospital at late stages of diseases which is bad.
“Due to this tendency we have discovered some patients with Tuberculosis (TB) in their spine, while in New York there is no such kind of disease at all,” he said.
He also called upon the government to develop and train more surgeons so that they can be helping the society.

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