The Caribbean Heart Institute (CHI) is operating at an improved capacity, having undergone a process of upgrading. And as part of the upgrade, the facility, the only of its kind on these shores, now has two new and improved heart lung machines, according to Chief Executive Officer, Dr Gary Stephens.
He said during an interview with this newspaper, yesterday, that since CHI commenced operation some four years ago, it has been utilising a single antiquated heart lung machine. “The machines we have now are bigger and better…The one we had before was an older model but now we have two new upgraded machines.”
And it took a few months, Dr Stephens revealed, to get the machines fully operational. As a result, routine open-heart surgeries had been halted since May at CHI. “We had a guy (technician) come down in September to check them to make sure that they are fine.”
The machines were put into operational mode for the first time last week when open-heart operations resumed. And according to the Cardiac Surgeon “they worked like a charm.” Three cardiac operations were successfully completed at the heart institute since then.
As part of the upgrade process, the CHI has also added a medical technology which will alleviate all concerns about the availability of sufficient blood during surgeries. The technology is called a Cell Saver Machine and is designed to recycle blood lost by patients during surgery.
“All the blood that a patient loses during the surgery is picked up by this machine and goes through the machine and goes back to the patient…The machine takes out all the debris from the blood and re-transfuse…”
According to Dr Stephens, one of the problems that CHI has been facing over the years is that of blood donation for surgeries, adding that the blood consumption for open-heart surgery is very high.
And this challenge exists despite the fact that urgent appeals are usually made by the Ministry of Health for voluntary donors to donate blood. Approximately three to five units of blood are needed per patient, during surgery, Dr Stephens disclosed yesterday.
As such, he noted that efforts were made to address this problem with the incorporation of the Cell Saver Machine. Although the machine is not a new technology, it is however new to Guyana, according to Dr Stephens.
Only one of the three patients that were operated on last week required blood transfusion, which amounted to one unit of blood, Dr Stephens said. CHI also undertook the task to operate on a member of the Jehovah’s Witness denomination, this time around, without any blood transfusion.
In the meantime, the waiting list of persons in need of operation has continued to expand. Moreover, some patients have opted to travel overseas to be operated on after having their angiograms done at CHI, Dr Stephens revealed. The CHI list currently has about 40 patients in waiting.
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