– even list for adult heart surgeries increase
By Sharmain Cornette
Plans are apace to have paediatric heart surgery be done right here in Guyana for the first time at the Caribbean Heart Institute by mid next year.
This disclosure was made yesterday by Head of the Institute, Dr Gary Stephens, who said that the plans for this additional and crucial feature have been in the making for the past two years.
He disclosed that currently the Institute has a doctor in training overseas to facilitate paediatric cardiology.
“We anticipate, and I am pretty sure, that by the middle of next year all of our diagnostic capabilities in terms of paediatric cardiology should be available to us. We will have intervention paediatric cardiac surgery, and given how many children we have, we could probably run the programme similar to the one for adults,” the Stephens relayed.
He, however, noted that efforts must first be made to ensure that the persons are totally comfortable with the current procedures before attempts are made to operate on children.
CHI is currently able to conduct almost all cardiac operations but, according to Dr Stephens, mostly valve replacements and by-pass surgeries are conducted.
“We do pretty much everything when it comes to cardiac surgery. It is just the frequency that is an issue but we have gotten better over the last few years…” he divulged.
Dr Stephens and a team of medical doctors, including his wife Dr Susan Stephens, arrived in Guyana on Friday and are scheduled to conduct surgical procedures on four patients, one woman and three men.
The procedures expected to be carried out include two valve replacements, one bypass and the insertion of a pacemaker.
According to the expert cardiologist, the institute has an ever-growing waiting list. He added that although there are many patients in dire need of heart by-pass, the Institute is restricted by its limited four-bed unit.
“It limits what we can do and we haven’t been able to move beyond that. We would love to be able to have more beds and more space. The last time I checked, our waiting list had about 40 patients. After we completed those there were already another 40 in waiting,” the doctor disclosed.
And while there have been no reported problems following surgical procedures conducted at CHI, Dr Stephens said that there are instances that patients have complex heart problems and therefore cannot be operated on since the Institute is not equipped for such operations.
“We have not yet had to operate on a patient who need a by-pass surgery and a valve surgery at the same time…We have never done it…”
But according to the doctor, once all goes well the Institute will undertake such a procedure on two patients within two months time.
CHI, which is situated within the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation compound, was commissioned in 2004 and Dr Stephens, who resides in the United States, had assured that he would return every three months to head surgical operations. However, he noted that he and his team had to cancel one planned trip this year due to flight problems.
Surgeries, he reported, were conducted in March, August, Friday last and yesterday.
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