Dr Balwant Singh’s Hospital Inc recently performed its first ever pericardiectomy on a 27-year-old patient who had been given 48 hours to live while hospitalised at another institution.

At a press conference yesterday, Dr Madhu Singh said the patient, Fizul Ghani, who hails from Berbice, suffered from constrictive pericarditis and his condition was extremely poor when he was admitted.

Constrictive pericarditis is long-term (chronic) inflammation of the sac-like covering of the heart (the pericardium) with thickening, scarring, and muscle tightening (contracture).

Ghani was unable to lie down while taking oxygen and had to do so in a sitting position. The other hospital, she said, administered heart medication, “which made his condition very complicated but we were determined to try our best to save his life.”

At a cost of US$12,000, the seven-hour procedure, which involves stripping the pericardial membrane away, was performed on June 3, and Ghani was discharged nine days later. The first step though, was to stop the administration of medication and treat his infection until he was stable.

Dr Madhu Singh [at right) with the team of doctors during the press conference
Dr Madhu Singh (at right) with the team of doctors during the press conference

According to Singh, Ghani was “also advised at the other hospital, that the surgery would have not have been possible in Guyana or anywhere in the rest of the Caribbean.”

But the hospital’s team – Dr Jose Machin Rodrigues, cardiac surgeon; Dr Javier Almeida Gomes, interventional cardiologist and Dr Gabriel Avalos, cardiac anaesthetist, “made the impossible, possible,” she said.

“That was the first ever surgery of its kind in Guyana, and also because the patient was high risk, there was a great deal of pressure. But the surgery went as planned, and we had a positive outcome,” she explained.

“His follow up was carefully managed by our cardiac team and was relatively uneventful. We are all extremely satisfied with the result,” she added, while noting that it would now take about six to eight months for Ghani to regain functionality of his heart muscle.

She explained that the surgery is “extremely complex” as it is performed while the heart is beating and that it is further complicated by the fact that the patient may already be in poor cardiac health, as well as by other complications.

“When the visceral pericardium is stripped away as part of pericardiectomy, there is a lot of bleeding from the underlying heart muscle. This bleeding can sometimes become uncontrollable,” Singh said.

In a video recording that was played for the media, Ghani said he had been at the other hospital for one month and because of the state he was in he felt there was no hope. This is, until his aunt took him to Dr Balwant Singh’s Hospital for a second opinion. He said he was very grateful that they took care of his problem so he can be back on his feet again and expressed gratitude to the hospital and the team of doctors for doing a good job.

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