Nyemudzai Kakore Herald Correspondent
Twenty-three patients have undergone open heart surgery at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals following the official resumption of open heart surgery in Zimbabwe in February.
Out of the 23 surgeries, one was unsuccessful.
The resumption of the operations has brought relief to patients who have been forking out thousands of dollars travelling for surgery outside the country.
Consultant, cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon team leader Dr David Chimuka said they had decided to resume operations to provide the service to ordinary Zimbabweans who could not go abroad for treatment.
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“When the South Korean team came, we did surgery on eleven children and after they left, we did operated 12 more patients mainly adults who needed valve replacements. Out of the adult group, we lost one patient who was very sick,” he said.
“We stopped doing the operations in September because we did not have an important disposable called cardioplegia (a solution used to stop the heart), so that we can operate on the heart, and other minor disposables such as filters and cannula.”
Dr Chimuka said the surgery could cost between $4 000 and $6 000 if done locally and that disposables per patient cost between $900 and $1 500.
He said they were resuming the operations beginning early next month, operating at least five patients with most of the operations being those of adults.
“We are in the process of raising our own money through Zimbabwe Heart Foundation to cater for paediatric as well as adults who are financially challenged, to undergo heart operations,” he said.
“Come January, we will be on full throttle, and at the end of January, we have the Korean team again visiting us. They have raised enough money to have 20 children operated on. They will be operated on from the 30th of January to the 10th of February 2017,” said Dr Chimuka.
However, sources close to the developments said there were some challenges since the commencement of the open heart surgery operations.
Some of the challenges were that children under the age of five were being required to pay the full amount of the surgery, yet children under five should not pay anything.
This has made the operations expensive.
The sources said it was unfortunate that Parirenyatwa had demanded approximately $1 500 from each child who was operated on for surgical, anaesthetists and other fees, although the Koreans had come to offer their services for free.
The source said it was “selfish and corrupt” for the hospital to demand that money as it has resulted in parents paying higher fees than the expected amount.
Open heart surgery began at the hospital in 1995 and stopped in 2003 due to financial constraints.
Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals managed to perform 460 open heart surgeries between 1995 and 2003 before the department was closed.
Since then, Zimbabweans suffering from heart ailments required not less than $30 000 to travel to South Africa or India for surgery.