A DOCTOR at the trust is part of a team of heart specialists who will soon be travelling to Africa to help perform a series of life saving operations.
Nic Child (pictured far right), a cardiologist at the trust, will be going to Ghana with a team of fellow cardiologists, surgeons, intensive care practitioners, a heart bypass technician and an anaesthetist, among others.
The team will be heading to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana’s second city, in February 2019.
Their mission has received overwhelming support from colleagues at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton – even those who are not going on the trip are gearing up to help raise £30,000 to fund equipment and medical supplies.
Dr Child said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to provide a few people with life-saving heart valve surgery. Importantly, we’ll also be looking to develop a long-term partnership with the cardiovascular unit in Kumasi.
“This will help many more people benefit from current cardiac therapies in the future. No doubt we’ll also learn much from our Ghanaian colleagues, to bring back to the UK.”
Enoch Akowuah, clinical director and cardiothoracic surgeon at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was born in Ghana and has been instrumental in launching the initiative alongside fellow cardiothoracic surgeon Joel Dunning.
He said: “The hospital has just appointed a cardiac surgeon but they have no kit and there are lots of patients who need operations.
“We hope to complete at least five open heart procedures and implant 10 pacemakers while we are out there.”
Mr Akowuah added: “Being able to offer this opportunity to young adults who would otherwise not have access to life-saving heart surgery is a real privilege for all of us.
“I’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm of the whole unit to help pull this mission together. Everyone wants to help or be involved in some way, not only those who are actually going on the trip, but by raising funds and providing support for the team.
Mr Dunning said: “Ghana has only one functioning cardiothoracic centre in Accra in the far south of the country. In central and northern Ghana, where we are heading, there is no access to cardiac surgery for the 15 million people who live there.
“Acute rheumatic fever is very high in Ghana and there are a lot of young adults – average age 29 – with heart valve problems who cannot afford treatment.
“We hope to fund all the equipment we need including artificial heart valves and cardiopulmonary bypass circuits so that those patients who are most in need can be treated for free.”
The fundraising drive, supported by South Cleveland Heart Fund, starts with an evening of entertainment at The Masonic Hall in Stockton on Saturday 17 November with live music from local band the VanBoy Squares and a disco, silent auction and pie and pea supper. Tickets are £15 and are available from firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
For those who prefer the great outdoors a sponsored walk from Lealholm to Whitby is taking place on Saturday 29 September. To sign up for the 15-mile trek contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heading out to the West African country are Mr Akowuah, Mr Dunning, Nicholas Child (North Tees cardiologist), Andrew Turley (cardiologist), Mike Foley (cardiac anaesthetist), Kim Thompson (senior perfusionist), Fiona Laughland (specialist critical care practitioner), Alison Clark (specialist critical care practitioner), Caroline Baldwin (theatre scrub nurse) and Peter Hill (operating department assistant).
Donations to support the Ghana mission can be made directly to the South Cleveland Heart Fund or visitjustgiving.com/crowdfunding/medicalmissiontoghana