Africa Outreach: New Operating Room

Thursday, February 14, 2013

This guest post is from Children’s National's Melissa Jones, a nurse practitioner specializing in Cardiac Surgery. She is one of many members of our Cardiology team who are in Uganda.

Tuesday marked the grand opening of the new operating room! Two patients underwent open heart surgery to repair their congenital heart disease. The first one, Matiko, is a 16 year old boy with a hole between the upper chambers of his heart and atrial septal defect. He was a rock star! He was able to eat dinner with his mom the night of his surgery—and even gave us a smile between his period of rest.

Claire, a 9 month old twin girl, was born with a large hole between the lower two chambers of her heart, a ventricular septal defect. Because her heart was working so hard, she has significant growth delay. Her twin sister is 7 lbs heavier than she is! She recovered very nicely from her surgery and as soon as she could begin breastfeeding again, she was a happy baby! Her mom is very excited for her to gain weight and have some chubby cheeks like her sister.

In addition to the surgeries, our team performed three cardiac catheterizations. Two of the patients underwent a diagnostic catheterization to gather more information about their heart defects and whether or not they are candidates for surgery. The other patient had a narrowing of the artery that carries blood from the heart to the lungs (pulmonary stenosis) and that artery was dilated with a balloon catheter. She will require follow up, but her heart now functions normally and she will not need surgery.

While we are here, we are treating these adorable children; however, our bigger goal is to teach the team here at Mulago Hospital how to care for these children when we are not here. Each discipline cardiologists, intensivists, respiratory therapists, nurse, surgeons, anethesiologists, biomedical engineers, technologists and perfusionists is teaching their respective colleagues the skills needed to diagnose, repair, and treat patients with congenital heart disease. The team here in Uganda is incredibly eager to learn and become more independent in their practice.

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