Meet Zambian Doctors who successfully operated on a patient who could not eat or swallow anything, even saliva for close to 4 years.
A team of Zambian doctors recently successfully performed an advanced surgery, only the second in the country’s history and the final results were out for the whole world to see.
The Transhiatal esophagectomy surgery was conducted at Ndola Teaching Hospital, the second largest health institution in Zambia.
Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa spoke to Dr. Kazuma Seke, the main surgeon who led the operation.
A sight of a middle-aged African woman sited down and eating her porridge, all along while being encouraged and interrupted with happy laughter and inquiries of how the meal tastes like it has never been more beautiful and heart-warming. Not unless the woman in question was enjoying her first real meal after three and a half long years of not being able to swallow or eat anything.
But that is exactly what happened in Zambia recently when a team of doctors successfully performed an advanced surgery, only the second in the country’s history, done on people with a damaged oesophagus that results in an inability to swallow or eat anything and the final results were out for the whole world to see.
Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa spoke to Dr. Kazuma Seke, the main surgeon who led the operation and revealed that the patient had feeding difficulties and was unable to swallow or eat anything due to a complication in the food pipe which was completely closed.
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“This was a 43-year old patient who had a three and a half history of difficulty in feeding so she couldn’t swallow or eat anything through the mouth,” Dr. Kazuma told BISSA.
Earlier on the ‘poor’ patient had gone to a university hospital where a feeding tube was inserted in her stomach. The doctors told her nothing more could be done and she had to live with the condition for the rest of her lifetime.
Devastated and with nowhere to go, she resigned to her fate until she heard about Ndola Teaching Hospital which had performed a similar procedure on another patient and reached out. She travelled to the hospital where Dr. Kazuma examined her.
“In my assessment I found that the condition she had was not cancer but just a scarring of the oesophagus and we could do something about it,” says Dr. Kazuma.
The oesophagus is the organ that connects the mouth to the stomach.
” A team of four surgeons then operated on her, we found out that the oesophagus had indeed closed completely and nothing could pass. So, we did a procedure called Transhiatal esophagectomy surgery, in this procedure you replace the scarred oesophagus with the stomach, you pull the stomach up to the neck to connect with the remnants of what oesophagus would have,” Dr. Kazuma revelled.
The surgical team was led by Dr Joseph Musowoya – Senior Medical Superintendent and comprised of Dr Kazuma Seke, Head of Department – Surgery, Dr Patrick Musonda, Dr Bright Chirengendure, Dr Felix Chibwe and Dr Mbangu Mumbwe –Anesthesiologist.
The doctors were supported by two nurses, Mrs Phiri and Mr Miranda.
Once they were done, Dr. Kazuma’s team then put the patient on close observation for a week all along tending to her every needs.
” Afterwards you have to keep the patient without food for up to a week to allow the wound to heal, during that time you will be feeding the patient through the drip, we call it the ‘parenteral nutrition’ which we arranged for her.”
Soon the patient started showing signs of recovery and the doctors moved to give her her first ‘real’ meal in three and a half years.
” She recovered very well and on the seventh day after the operation we gave her porridge to eat which she ate successfully and then ten days after the operation she had successfully eaten nshima (maize meal) and now she was back to food diet,”
Scarring of the oesophagus is a very common problem and is caused by intake of such toxic substances such as acid or poison.
In a continent where 77 percent of the population are below 35 years and faced with all manner of hardships ranging from joblessness to depression, committing suicide is never far away from their thoughts and Dr. Kazuma knows this too well.
“It is a very common condition especially among young adults and teenagers who are at high risk, whenever they get angry or disappointed the first thought they normally have is to take their own life and they think when they drink acid they are going to die. We have a lot of people who have drank acid and the acid has scarred their oesophagus and now they have this problem,” explains Dr. Kazuma.
In the past, these individuals were normally sent to South Africa, India and other countries to have this operation but the procedure doesn’t come cheap.
” Of Course the cost is very high so, only a few of them could be sent and this is why we need to develop this form of surgery,”
” So far, three patients have come in this week from all over and they are coming to access these services,”
At the end of the day, this surgery marks yet another proud moment for Africa and it is indeed a strong statement that African doctors are equal to the task and with the right support and believe they can adequately meet up all ‘Mama Africa’ medical needs.
“I think we have demonstrated that the African doctors are not disadvantaged because they have a lack of knowledge or lack of advanced facilities to do these cases, we have demonstrated that even in Africa we can actually carry out sophisticated operations and therefore there is no need for people going out to look for these services, it can actually be done in our hospitals with the resources we have,” says Dr. Kazuma.
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