Dec 10, 2015 News
After a year of paediatric heart surgery, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) has been able to boast of a zero per cent mortality rate.
A total of 42 cases were conducted during the course of the year, an undertaking that was made possible with the support of the International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF), a United States-based charitable organisation.
According to GPHC’s Head of Paediatric Surgery, Dr. Marisa Seepersaud, Guyana is one of two countries within the Region that has in place functioning centres that offer paediatric heart services.
And according to her, reports suggest that Guyana, despite only introducing its paediatric heart programme this year, has already surpassed the number of cases conducted by its counterpart for 2015 – Jamaica is the other country in the Region that offers paediatric cardiac surgical services.
“I am told by my friends at the other centre that so far for this year we have surpassed their numbers in open heart cases,” Dr. Seepersaud related.
She has attributed this development to the fact that the centre in Jamaica does not have a fully functional unit. Dr. Seepersaud said that unlike the GPHC’s paediatric heart centre, “they depend on a general ICU (Intensive Care Unit) that other patients use. I think we have an opportunity here to stand out in the Region, to show how things should be.”
With the support of ICHF, Guyana has been able to not only put in place its paediatric heart surgery centre, complete with its own ICU, but one that is well furnished with equipment and other supplies, including a multi-million-dollar heart lung machine.
According to Chief Executive Officer and lead Paediatric Surgeon of the ICHF, Dr Rodrigo Soto, there are already plans in the pipeline to make available to the GPHC, yet another heart lung machine.
Dr. Seepersaud disclosed that because of the forthcoming support, the GPHC is able to offer the paediatric heart surgery at one-fifth or one-sixth of the high cost associated with such surgeries. “We are able to do all of this at a much lower cost than is usual to have cardiac services offered,” Dr. Seepersaud emphasised.
She disclosed that based on forthcoming information from another children’s heart foundation, ailing Guyanese children in the past were taken to Toronto Sick Kids (The Hospital for Sick Children) in Ontario, Canada, at a cost of US$30,000 per child. GPHC is currently able to offer the same service at US$3,000 per child.
“That’s a huge difference in the cost,” said Dr. Seepersaud as she assured that “We are not sacrificing on quality…even in first world top-of-the-line centres, the mortality rate from paediatric cardiac surgeries hover just above three per cent. In other centres in the rest of the world, it is anywhere between four and eight per cent.”
The mortality rate for the ICHF – which offers its cardiac services support including surgeries and building of capacity at various health facilities around the world – is 1.5 per cent, which is way below first world centres. The fact that after three bouts of surgeries Guyana has not recorded any deaths, suggests that something is being done right, Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton asserted.
According to Dr. Seepersaud, “I think that we are achieving great things, even though we are operating in a low cost setting.” This laudable gain, Dr. Seepersaud has attributed to not only support from ICHF, but from the GPHC’s counterparts at the LIBIN Cardiovascular Institute in Canada, together with the dedication of staffers at the public hospital, some of whom, she noted, have worked to the point of exhaustion during surgery days.
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