In Summary:
– The operation started at around 9am, with a 40-year-old woman from Lamu and a secondary school student being the first to undergo the operation.
– Eight of the doctors from KNH who are helping with the operation arrived in Mombasa on Monday. – Dr Aseyo said a special theatre had been prepared for the procedure.
– The hospital is the largest public health facility in the region, with a 700-bed capacity.

Tuesday is D-Day for the Coast General and Referral Hospital as doctors perform the first open-heart surgery at a public health facility in the coast.

Mombasa-based cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Sore Aseyo is leading a team of 12 heart specialists from Kenyatta National Hospital to perform the surgery, the first to be conducted in a public hospital outside KNH.

The operation started at around 9am, with a 40-year-old woman from Lamu and a secondary school student being the first to undergo the operation.

Ms Fatuma Hassan and a Form Two student are among five patients suffering from rheumatic heart disease who will be the first beneficiaries of the open-heart surgery organised by the Mombasa County government.

During an early morning press briefing ahead of the surgery, Governor Hassan Joho announced that he, alongside Mvita MP Abdullswamad Nassir, would meet the cost of the surgery for Ms Hassan and the teenager.

In an earlier exclusive interview with the Nation, Dr Aseyo, who works at the Coast General and Referral Hospital, said eight of the doctors from KNH who are helping with the operation arrived in Mombasa on Monday.

The heart specialists include Dr James Munene of KNH.

The first phase will start with the six patients, Dr Asiyo explained.

He said a special theatre had been prepared for the procedure.

VIDEO CONFERENCING FACILITIES

It is complete with video conferencing facilities to enable other doctors, interns, nurses, patients and anyone who might want to witness the operation to view every step from the installed units.

“It is a breakthrough for this region’s medical fraternity; it is a big thing. It will be the first in a public hospital outside Nairobi,” said Dr Aseyo.

“Without political support, we are wobbling. Furthermore, a lot of money is involved. It is an intense procedure that requires a lot of support from even the business community and donors,” he added.

On Monday, Ms Hassan, who also spoke to the Nation, said she was diagnosed with a heart problem a year ago.

She said people urged her to seek medical attention in India or Tanzania but after meeting Dr Aseyo, she decided to have it done by him at the Coast General Hospital.

The hospital is the largest public health facility in the region, with a 700-bed capacity.

Dr Aseyo said the region was lucky that open-heart surgeries could be done at Coast General since KNH could only conduct about 100 such surgeries in a year.

He added that private hospitals charge Sh1 million for the operation while public hospitals charge around Sh200,000.