A team of medical volunteers from Hamad Medical Corporation returned to Doha after conducting 55 heart surgeries in Yemen, recently. The team of seven surgeons and support staff visited Yemen for one week to offer Qatar's expertise in cardiology.
"The operations were done as part of Friends of Heart Patients in Yemen under the auspices of Gulf Heart Association," said Dr Abdulaziz Al Khulaifi, Heart Surgeon at HMC and the leader of the group.
"The country with a population of 20 million has only one cardiac centre. HMC is the only cardiac centre in Qatar. But with lower population compared to Yemen, the Cardiology Department is always busy."
"Of the total surgeries conducted, 28 were paediatric cardiac cases. 13 of these surgeries were open heart while 15 were closed," Dr Akhlaque Bhat, Paediatric Cardiac Surgeon, HMC said.
"Most of the paediatric cardiac complications were due to hole in hearts. There were patients with obstruction on right side of the heart, excessive blood supply to lungs and also 'blue babies'. There were a huge number of patients. So we selected the patients who could get maximum benefit in short time," he told The Peninsula.
Twelve of the 23 surgeries done on adults were open heart. It was a big challenge to the doctors to perform open heart surgeries in both adult and children due to the limited resources. Open heart surgery often requires stopping the heart and using heart - lung machine (also called cardiopulmonary bypass).
Apart from the surgeries, 40 patients were able to consult the specialists during the trip. Donations from various organisations enabled the charitable trip.
The purpose of the visit was to provide the much-needed specialty cardiac care to Yemen, which is only developing in terms of trained personnel in the medical field according to Dr Al Khulaifi.
"The programme started in Sudan in 2002. In 2006 December, 22 surgeries were done in Yemen. This time our doctors worked for 14 to 15 hours each day to conduct 55 successful surgeries," he said
HMC's Cardiology Department is one of the best in the region. The department is the second in the region to use Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a temporary artificial lung and heart for children and probably the first to launch artificial heart programme for adults, in the region according to Dr Bhat.
Dr Omar Altamimimi, Consultant Cardiologist, Dr Amal Elsissi, Paediatric Cardiac Surgeon, Dr Jiju John, Paediatric Anaesthetist, Arthur Nakonieczny, Cardio Perfusionist and Sofia Thomas were among others who went to Yemen.
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