Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Makurdi, has started spinal surgery and has successfully operated on five patients so far, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the centre, Dr Peteru Inunduh, said.
Vanguard reports that Inunduh said the centre was the first health facility to conduct spinal surgery in Benue. Spinal surgery is done to correct spinal fusion, also called spondylodesis or spondylosyndesis. It is a neurosurgical or orthopedic surgical technique that joins two or more vertebrae, usually to relieve pain caused by nerve root pinching.
Inunduh said that the centre had trained consultant and specialist in Spine and Orthopedics in Egypt for the purpose “and since his return in 2017, the orthopedic surgeon carried out five successful spinal surgeries.” The CMD added that 20 medical doctors of the centre were undergoing various specialist training around the world and that the state government was ready to procure equipment for the spinal surgery theater, adding that “FMC Makurdi has seven standard theaters to accommodate the needs of trained specialists.
“We realised that equipment for spinal surgery are expensive and decided to have sub head in the 2018 budget for the purchase of medical equipment, and we intend to buy between 70 and 75 per cent of the equipment needed for such surgery. Apart from the spine orthopedic consultants we trained in Egypt, we also trained a consultant in India that specializes in plastic surgery, while another doctor gets set to go to India for gastroenteritis. We have 20 doctors who have either completed their training or are undergoing different kinds of specialists training locally and internationally.”
The director explained that the centre had palliatives that accommodate indigent patients through the Department of Medical and Social Works where some patients who could not afford their medical bills were treated. “We have indigent patients, we know they need healthcare services but they cannot afford. We don’t insist that they pay. We have a programme to attend to such patients without necessary collecting money from them. The programme is coordinated by Department of Medical and Social Works. Our joy is to provide services to Nigerians.”
Inunduh said that the centre recently unofficially inaugurated a four-suit theater with areas for recovery and administrative purposes. Corroborating the CMD’s position, the Egypt trained Spine Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr Dr Joseph Okoh, said the Federal Government, through the management of FMC Makurdi, supported him for the training. Okoh, who said that the first spinal surgery was conducted during the last industrial action by JOHESU, added that it was successful.
He added that “since I came back from Egypt where I did my specialization in Spine Orthopedics, we have done five spinal surgeries and all of them were successful because the symptoms that gave reasons for the operation disappeared afterward.
Mrs Monica Vanger, the first patient to undergo the spinal surgery at FMC Makurdi, commended the centre “for rendering services with human face.” Vanger, who sustained spine injury due to car accident, said she was incapacitated for two months, adding, however, that within three weeks of the surgery, she could walk. She added that “after the accident, initially I had no challenge, I had a fracture and was treated. The issue I had was intermediate waste pain which I was taking drugs. As time progressed, I started having consistent severe waste pain and was later discovered that my kidney was affected and I went to Abuja where I received about four to five sessions of dialysis in a week, but when the kidney injury was cured, I could not walk. The pain became severe and I became paralyzed for about two months and decided to go to FMC Makurdi, where this surgery was done and within three weeks, I could walk. The financial commitment was affordable.”
As for kidney patients in the South-East, hope may have come their way of following two successful kidney transplant surgeries carried out at the FMC, Umuahia, Abia State.
The hospital achieved the feat in collaboration with a team of medical doctors from University of Toledo Medical Center in Ohio, United States of America led by Dr. Obi Ekwenna, Imo State born America-based surgeon and the receivers and donors of the kidneys, according to Dr. Abali Chuku, the Medical Director of the hospital, are doing well. The feat as expected was the main topic of discussion in the state throughout the period by individuals and public commentators.
The kidney transplant surgeries were performed on a 37- year-old businessman and native of Ohafia in Abia State whose name was simply given as Mr. Oji and a 68-year- old medical doctor, a native of Umuahia, simply identified as Dr. Charles. A 57-year-old civil servant indentified simply as Mr. Kalu donated the kidney for Oji, while a 41-year-old security man, named Innocent donated for Dr. Charles.
According to Oji, one of the recipients, he has had kidney problem for about four years. The medical team leader, Dr. Obi Ekwenna said the surgery was “successful and excellent by any standard anywhere in the world,” even as he attributed the success to the dedication of his team, FMC management led by its CMD, Dr. Abali Chuku.
According to him: “Dr. Abali Chuku is a strong and committed leader. We met few years ago and he expressed the desire to have transplantation center in the South-East, Nigeria, particularly in his FMC and I pledged to assist with my team in Toledo.” Ekwenna explained that under the partnership arrangement with the hospital, his team would work towards transferring skills and return to Nigeria to render more professional assistance including doing more transplantations. Basking in the in the feat, Dr. Chuku Abali said the success of the surgeries has encouraged them on the hospital’s vision in Kidney Transplant Services with a target to provide affordable and efficient kidney transplantation services in the South-East and the FMC, Umuahia. He commended the Federal Government for the support that ensured the success of the surgeries.
According to him, the vision for kidney Transplant at the hospital started in 2015 when he was invited by the Teledo University, Ohio in the USA, and honored with admission into its Hall of Fame after which he sought for a partnership with the University on Kidney management. “This resulted to the signing of a four-year memorandum of understanding, MoU, for transfer of skills to our medical personnel in kidney transplantation for which four of our staff later went to Toledo for exposure to kidney management. We are also grateful to Dr. Ekwenna of the Ohio University who played key role during the transplant, who is a Nigerian-American and another Abian from Ozu Abam, Mr. James Ogbuka Umekwe who donated large consumables for the Kidney Centre and all others who participated in the transplant, even up to the driver,” the CMD said.
He said the hospital would perform at least 40 kidney transplants in 2018 and urged individuals and corporate organizations to assist them by donating towards sustainable kidney transplant surgeries at FMC, Umuahia. Chuku also appreciated the kidney donors and members of their families “for having the courage to donate one of their kidneys,” saying that the hospital’s kidney foundation hopes to subsidize the transplant to less than N3.5 million, far cheaper than other centres in the country.