Ghana mission is a huge success

Posted on in Staff

…and team already planning second trip!

A UK team, led by consultants from the heart and lung surgery team at The James Cook University Hospital, gave up their holidays to take part in a life-saving mission to Ghana.

Surgeons, cardiologists, intensive care practitioners, anaesthetists and a heart bypass technician were among those who spent a week at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital from 23 February to 1 March.

The Ghanaian hospital recently appointed its own cardiac surgeon but has no kit and lots of patients – many who are young adults – who need life-saving operations.

Vital kit had to be sent out to Ghana ahead of the trip, and the team of 12 had to work with limited resources and electrical issues that would never be an issue back home. Despite this they successfully performed nine operations.

Cardiothoracic surgeon Enoch Akowuah, who was born in Ghana, was instrumental in launching the initiative. He said doing his first operation in Ghana was the stuff dreams were made of:

“It was a fantastic experience for the whole team. It was such a privilege to work alongside our Ghanaian colleagues – we learnt so much from them about working in challenging circumstances with minimum resources.

“We are looking forward to building a long term sustainable partnership. Plus the food was excellent and the music was fabulous!”

Cardiologist Andrew Turley said: “We had one patient who was quite unwell whose heart kept going to a very dangerous heart rhythm. It all went well but it was times like that when you suddenly realised you were in Africa and not back at home in Middlesbrough!”

Cardiothoracic surgeon Joel Dunning, who was also instrumental in organising the trip, said they had been touched by the generosity of so many people in helping them to raise £30,000 to make this first mission a reality:

“We succeeded in performing nine operations with no complications and more importantly we learnt in detail the great challenges of setting up heart surgery in Ghana. We now have a pathway to move forward and get this centre supported towards independent practice.”

“But also we learnt what a fabulous cardiothoracic team we have at James Cook. Not just the stellar 12 that came on the mission, but also the huge amount of support that we got from our whole department and messages of support while we were there. We are privileged to work in this fabulous heart and lung surgery team.”

The team, who are now fundraising for a second mission in October, shared their progress with a daily online video blog – click here to view the footage 

Donations can be sent to South Cleveland Heart Fund (clearly marked for Ghana mission) or visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/heartsurgerymissiontoghana