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In a bid to tell the story of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit, the LASUTH Management recently held a webinar tagged: “Open Heart Surgery in Nigeria – The Role of LASUTH”. 

In his opening address, the Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Adetokunbo O. Fabamwo, said that institutionalising open-heart surgery in LASUTH has now become a reality. 

He recalled that the first foreign heart surgery mission was carried out in LASUTH 20 years ago by a surgical team from Chicago in the USA, describing the humble beginning as a period for skills transfer that has been successfully achieved.  
The CMD commended the entire Cardiac Surgery Team for its persistent efforts in carrying out regular Open-Heart Surgery in LASUTH, noting that although challenges abound, the Board and Management of the hospital are determined to ensure that the ultimate goal is achieved.

The Head of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit and Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Dr. Bode Falase, gave a detailed history of the emergence of open-heart surgery in Nigeria, which he said, dates back to 1974. 

He pointed out that between 2004 and 2019 the LASUTH team was exposed to a lot of training to scale up the effectiveness of the professionals in the Unit. Such programmes included multi-disciplinary training for Surgeons, Intensive Care Nurses, Anaesthetists and Perfusionists in the United Kingdom and India, among others.

Dr. Falase pointed out that, so far, 102 Open-Heart Surgeries have been carried out in LASUTH and efforts are being made to increase the number significantly, just as he highlighted the range of ongoing cases. 

According to him, the LASUTH cardiac team is resolved to reduce the complications associated with high-risk cases to the barest minimum by increasing the capacity to test and consult with more patients so that they can undergo surgery while their cases are still in the early stages. He added that such patients have better chances of full and quick recovery. 
While pointing out that every endeavour undergoes growth phase challenges, the Head of the Cardiothoracic Unit brought to the fore the issue of financing surgeries as a challenge that many patients face.

He, therefore, used the opportunity to make a plea to organisations and philanthropic individuals to sponsor patients who need open-heart surgeries but are unable to afford such, noting that the highly subsidised cost of surgery in LASUTH is about N3.3 million.  

Falase, however, acknowledged the efforts of some organisations like Ikoyi Golf Club and Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), who are supporting the cause on different fronts.

Other panelists spoke about the functions of the different units involved in the process of carrying out a successful open-heart surgery. They highlighted the challenges and pointed out ways that management, government and the public at large can contribute to increasing the growth and opportunities for open-heart surgeries in Nigeria. 

Panelists at the webinar included Dr. Funmi Ikotun, Consultant Anaesthetist/Intensivist; Dr. Oluwaseye Oladimeji, Consultant Cardiologist; Chief Nursing Officer, Anafi Morenikeji; Intensive Care Unit/Cardiac Nurse, Mrs. Adenike Akalakini; Cardiac Physiologist, Mr. Idowu Ariyo and Cardiac Perfusionist, Mrs. Deborah Titus among others.

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