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Dr. Segun Ajayi: The Lives of 60 Children Are on the Line

Every year, an estimated 85,000 children are born with a congenital heart defect (CHD) in Nigeria. In a high proportion of these cases, we can save the lives or improve the quality of life of the children through invasive surgery. Unfortunately, their parents can’t afford the procedure due to the huge cost implications. Even when they can, the expertise to perform this kind of surgery is difficult to access in Nigeria. This is the sad reality.

BellaNaija.com

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When I was  twenty years old, I came back home to visit Nigeria. Unfortunately, I became ill—vomiting and diarrhea—and had to be hospitalized in one of the best hospitals in Lagos. Consequently, I had to be hospitalized in one of the best hospitals in Lagos. I was unpleasantly surprised at the quality of what was a better hospital. After that incident, I decided Nigeria has a better healthcare story to tell and I would be make sure of it!

It took five years of planning and finding people who believe in the vision, to create a functional model and implement Hospitals for Humanity. We are a non-profit organization that provides free healthcare. In Nigeria, we carry out free open-heart surgery for children. Our staff are willing and compassionate medical professionals from different countries who have worked with and for HFH for many years. We work with organizations, hospitals and state governments to provide affordable paediatric open-heart surgeries for Nigerian children who need it urgently and can’t get these life-saving surgeries.

Every year, an estimated 85,000 children are born with a congenital heart defect (CHD) in Nigeria. In a high proportion of these cases, we can save the lives or improve the quality of life of the children through invasive surgery. Unfortunately, their parents can’t afford the procedure due to the huge cost implications. Even when they can, the expertise to perform this kind of surgery is difficult to access in Nigeria. This is the sad reality.

Our goal is to perform at least 150 pediatric open heart surgeries on the Nigerian child.

In 2010, we had our first general programme in Isanlu, Kogi state. This encompassed pediatrics, adults, ophthalmology and general surgery. In 2014, we worked with  Garki Hospital for our first Paediatric Open-Heart program in Abuja. Every year after that, we have completed several programs from Abuja to Plateau to Akwa Ibom.

Since 2014, we have also screened over 1,500 children and performed Paediatric Cardiothoracic Catheterizations in Nigeria. Till date, we have performed heart surgery on over seventy (70) children with a 96% success rate at care and management rate, compared to any first-class institution in the world. Our time-limited programmes took place at HFH strong pre-existing partnering hospitals, and we are building capacity with skill transfer to Nigerian hospitals in the process, one surgery at a time.

In May 2019, we partnered with DeltaAfrik Foundation in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, to create awareness and screen Niger Delta children for CHD to receive possible intervention or advanced medical treatment. Majority of the children came in from Bayelsa, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states in the Niger Delta region of the country.

Out of the 156 children screened, aged eleven days old to fourteen years old, 75 required immediate open-heart surgery for the next phase of our intervention. On October 14th – November 2nd 2019, along with our partners, we held the first Congenital Heart Defects Surgical Program at the Ibom Multi-Specialist Hospital in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state. Unfortunately, we only performed successful, free surgeries on 11 children out of the 75 because during the program, two power surges spoilt our two heart-lung machines we were using for the surgeries.

Right now, the program is on hold as we need to fix the two heart-lung machines and give hope to the 61 children on the waiting list. Given the huge, pressing need, we (and the sick children) desperately need your financial support to perform the remaining surgeries.

The cost of repair and installation for the two heart-lung machines is N11,400,000 (Ten million, four hundred thousand naira). The cost of surgery per child is about two million naira. This cost covers free congenital heart surgery, surgical consumables and supplies, lab tests, ECHO and X-rays (pre, peri and post operation). It also covers cardiac catheterization, ten days of hospitalization in our Paediatric Intensive Care Unit and step down.

Allow me to make a cost comparison between Hospitals for Humanity (HFH) conducting this procedure in Nigeria and doing the same overseas. To carry out  pediatric cardiothoracic surgery in India, the patient will pay $26,000. For the UK, they’d have to spend £83,000 and, in the USA, the cost will be $112,000.

However, if done locally with HFH, it’ll cost $5,500 or about 2 million naira. The patient and their caretaker won’t pay for airfare, accommodation for the surgery. They’ll also not have to spend thousands of dollars on  travel expenses every three months, for post-surgery check-up in the first year.

This is my invitation to you, to help.

Together, we can give these children a chance at healthier lives.

Please donate online at:  http://hospitalsforhumanity.org/donate  

Bank Account Name:  Hospitals for Humanity Foundation, 1015164848, Zenith Bank PLC.

Contact us via:

Email: [email protected]  or

Phone/WhatsApp: 1-864-571-0604

For parents who have children with CHD and want to access our services please fill out the form here: https://hospitalsforhumanity.org/pctsi-application/

Thank you for your support.

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