Abu Dhabi, UAE: A hospital has provided 100 free heart operations, at an average cost of Dh100,000 each, in a scheme dedicated to the memory of the founding President, Sheikh Zayed.
Burjeel Hospital has also pledged to provide another 1,000 free cardiac operations over the next five years to patients in need throughout the region and Indian subcontinent.
The operations were performed by a team of six cardiologists, three surgeons, two anaesthesiologists, four technicians, and 10 nurses.
All of the patients awarded surgery were chosen by Dr Tariq El Hassan, a full-time cardiac surgeon at Burjeel Hospital, who said that the most common condition was coronary atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries.
“First of all with these patients, you have to explain that it’s not a small thing, it’s major surgery,” said Dr El Hassan.
“You have to explain to the patient why he received surgery.
“We tell them the reasons and we ask what contributed to their specific cases.”
The most common reasons for heart problems are a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, poor diet and in some cases a genetic predisposition.
“The treatment is not only doing the bypass surgery. Our goal is to see that even after surgery, we solve the problem,” Dr El Hassan said.
As part of its preventive approach, the hospital has an in-house fitness centre with medical professionals and personal instructors to help people lead healthier lifestyles.
“As a hospital, we believe that we are privileged to be taking part in changing lives and giving people a new lease of life,” said Clancy Po, chief executive of Burjeel Hospital.
“We want to avoid disaster by preventing it first.
“We made sure to implement a very advanced system and have a process in place to identify the suitable applicants for these free operations in the most effective and efficient manner.”
On average, Mr Po said, the operations would normally cost the patient more than Dh100,000 – a cost many of the screened candidates could not otherwise afford.
Burjeel Hospital worked alongside several hospitals in the region to screen candidates for the programme, and then coordinate with its financial division to cover the costs of the operation, travel and accommodation if needed.
Mr Po said that all of the patients were carefully chosen based on their financial situation and had to prove that they were unable to afford the surgery and the post-recovery checkups and medications.
One patient who received a heart operation was Hammod Al Wadhahi, 44, from Oman.
“After the surgery, I have had my checkups on a monthly basis,” Mr Al Wadhahi said.
“My life has changed completely and Burjeel gave me a chance to fight and stay with my family for a longer time.”
Bashir Hamza, whose son also benefitted from the programme, said: “Before the surgery, my son was in a really bad condition. However, today I am extremely grateful to Burjeel for his new life.”
The outreach initiative is part of Burjeel Hospital’s community programmes.
They also include awareness campaigns on smoking, physical activity, and healthy eating.
“I am very proud of everyone who played a role in the success of this initiative and we hope to continue what the late Sheikh Zayed has started by reaching out to the people in the Middle East,” said Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, vice president and managing director of VPS Healthcare.
The hospital opened for patients in April 2012 as a private institution under the Health Authority for Abu Dhabi .
It will soon be announcing affiliations with world leaders in the treatment in areas of cardiac, diabetes and fetal medicine.
© The NationalAug 2014