OPERATION OPEN HEART
Operation Open Heart first commenced work in Rwanda in 2005 and have been returning annually ever since.
Travel in Rwanda still has its challenges and the team has had to deal with unscheduled fuel stops, lost luggage, confiscation of supplies by customs authorities, and vacating operating theatres to deal with trauma cases.
The initial screening of patients is done locally by volunteers who travel earlier than the rest of the team. After refinements over previous years patient selection and documentation is now excellent and there was extensive pre-planning to move patients to Kigali and pre-treat ancillary conditions, particularly pneumonia, malaria and anaemia.
Operation Open Heart works in collaboration with a similar organisation in the USA, and with the education provided by both teams, a local surgeon is now capable of many closed heart surgical procedures in Rwanda. This allows the Operation Open Heart to concentrate on the more complex open heart procedures.
Most days the team will complete four open heart surgeries. A one day nursing education program was also run for the local staff. This was extremely well received and contributed significantly to the increased involvement of the local nursing staff, particularly in the Intensive Care Unit. This will be done again in the future in an attempt to increase the involvement of the post operative ward staff.
Our visits to Rwanda provide excellent surgical outcome for the selected patients, continued skills transfer for local staff, and improvement in the planning for the team’s arrival.
There is a positive spirit between the visiting teams and most importantly among the local staff. Both the Ministry of Health and staff at the King Faisal Hospital were keen to see the team return on an annual basis. It was obvious that the Rwandan team had spent significant time and effort to ensure a successful visit, and local staff supported the team tirelessly with the daily challenges faced while at the same time fulfilling their day to day roles of running the hospital.
The Rwanda program receives no specific government grant, and the costs are funded through Australian business, philanthropic individuals, community organisations and team members along with the Rwandan Ministry of Health and King Faisal Hospital.
To support the on-going work of Operation Open Heart in Rwanda, please visit our HealthCare Outreach Donations page.
“The challenges are to work out how to compensate for the lack of things we take for granted normally. What the Rwandan operating theatre lacks in infrastructure, it makes up for with its people”
November 2010: Operation Open Heart - 21 cardiac procedures on patients younger than 15 years; the youngest child less than 12 months old
November 2009: Operation Open Heart - 23 open heart surgeries and 1 closed heart procedure performed
November 2008: Operation Open Heart - 17 open heart and 7 closed heart cardiac procedures performed