Dr. Yacoub is working with physicians at the Ugandan Heart Institute, the ministry of Health, and two international charity organizations, Gift of Life and Chain of Hope, among other partners, to find a solution to this debilitating condition. Dr. Yacoub heads Chain of Hope, a UK-based charity that provides free cardiothoracic surgical care to poor patients in the developing world.
Besides life-saving surgery, another major objective of the organizations is the transfer of skills necessary for performing this surgery to Ugandan medical professionals, including senior cardiologists, Dr Tom Muwambu and Dr Peter Lwabi. Indeed, the team in the theatre comprised mainly of Ugandan medical professionals, working with colleagues from Europe, the United States and elsewhere in Africa.
The visit is the second of four planned missions to Uganda in 2012. By year’s end, they hope to have a self-sustaining team of medical professionals at the Ugandan Heart Institute, capable of saving the lives of pediatric patients; and to have operated on at least 100 children.
The Ugandan Heart Institute began the current phase of treatment of patients on April 19, and 70 children have received treatment, mainly anti-inflammatory medication for endomycardial fibrosis (EMF), a heart condition known to be found in areas where populations eat diets poor in protein and residing near mosquito-infested areas. The organizations also sponsor surgeries on children with congenital heart defects. Both are life-threatening conditions that are treatable.