Arrhythmia Alliance is pleased to support the Hearts of Ghana Program, in conjuction with James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.
It is an unsettling fact that in a country of 30 million people, there are fewer than 100 heart operations performed annually. There is an epidemic of Rheumatic heart disease, which affects young people in their 20s to 40s. Sadly, hundreds of people currently do not survive this condition. In Kumasi, the second largest city in Ghana, 22% of hospital admissions are due to heart failure from rheumatic heart disease. The average age of those admitted is only 29 years old. 29% of al ldeaths in this hospital are due to heart failure, and yet in the west we know that a heart valve replacement would cure every patient.
These unsettling facts have inspired a team from James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough led by Dr Enoch Akowuah, heart surgeon, to organise a series of heart surgery missions to Ghana. Dr Akowuah has family in Kumasi and grew up there this, this is the perfect long-term link up for us.
Mr Joel Dunning, Cardiothoracic surgeon at James Cook, and a member of the team, says: "When we embarked on this surgical mission, we were delighted to receive the wholehearted and enthusiastic support of our cardiology colleagues. Upon arrival in Ghana, the team realised that there is also a great need for pacemaker implantation. There are many people in Ghana in complete heart block, with heart rates in their 20s which in the UK would be an emergency resulting in pacemaker insertion within 24 hours, but due to the high cost of pacemakers in Ghana this is just not possible."
Mr Dunning adds, "Because of this, we have also embarked on a program of pacemaker implantation and teaching of the local team paired with 'Pace4life'; a charity providing free pacemakers. We are delighted to say that this project is taking off very successfully, resulting in the first ever unsupervised pacemaker implantation in February 2020. We hope to provide pacemakers, ECGs and screening to diagnose more patients, and a program to support the cardiologists in Kumasi with implantation."
"We have been so touched by the generosity of so many people in making our first two missions a reality in February and October 2019. We also brought the Ghanaian heart surgery team over to James Cook for a month of training which has made a huge difference. We want to make this a regular link up and we dream of the day when the Ghanaian hospital can perform heart surgery independently."
"If you feel able to contribute to the Arrhythmia Alliance - Hearts of Ghana Appeal, we would be most grateful and can assure you that it will make a huge difference to the people who we can reach as we move further and further towards supporting them to perform independent heart surgery."