Tuesday 11 May 2021
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Successful surgery gives hope for public health sector

An Oshivelo native, twenty-nine-year-old mother is singing praises for a team of doctors, who successfully removed a big growth from her two-month-old daughters face.
When she was pregnant with her baby girl, never did think her daughter’s early days would include excruciating pain, limited breastfeeding and enormous breathing difficulties as a growth the baby girl was born with, continued to expand.
The baby girl was born with a condition called called frontonasal encephalocele which is the failure of head bones closing during the development of foetus in the uterus.
As a result brain tissue and covering bulges out onto the face through the hole in the bone.
This caused a big growth on the baby girl’s face between the bones of the nose and forehead.
It is against this background that the news that the growth can be surgically removed, came like a blessing to the young mother who said that her baby could finally have a healthy life.
“It was difficult for her to breastfeed and the breathing was also very difficult for her,” the mother said.
Although she always had hope that her baby will be healed one day, she said that she thanks each and every health official who was responsible for the successful surgery and wishes that God blesses them.
The baby was operated on by three specialist teams consisting of senior anaesthesiologist Dr Theresia Shivera. She was accompanied by anaesthesia medical officer Dr. Crentsil and anaesthesia nurse assistant Mr. Gabriel.
The other specialists were neurosurgery Professor AJ Vlok from Tygerberg hospital in Cape Town and Dr Ishkakov and Dr Elizabeth Xoagus for plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Dr Shivera was also joined by two medical interns.
The operation took place at the Windhoek Central Hospital last week Wednesday and lasted around five hours.
Ministry of Health Acting Public Relations Officer, Manga Lubita said that the successful operation is seen as a great achievement for the health ministry, especially because, while the team was accompanied by two international specialists, it was largely a Namibian team of medical professionals.
“This was a very big operation and it’s success is a great positive for the ministry,” Lubita said.
Namibian plastic and reconstruction doctor, Dr Xoagus told The Patriot that with surgical success it is evidence that “the future of medicine in Namibia including plastic surgery looks promising”.
Shivera also said that the successful surgery gives hope that the Namibian public health facilities are capable of delivering world standard healthcare.
“For a long time we have been focusing on failures so this is a story of hope,” the doctor said.
She added that the success story is a reminder that more can be done with the limited resources at hand and at the same time encourages investment where it matters and also training Namibia’s own health professionals and supporting them fully.
“There are hundreds of untold success stories in the ministry. I am hopeful that if we all acknowledge one another’s roles, we are guaranteed to have more of these stories,” Shivera said.
Pointing out the importance of team work in achieving successful results such as that of the surgery, Shivera said that each team member has an important role to play for success stories such as these to become the order of the day. From the porter – taking patient to and from theatre, nursing team preparing the patient, theatre teams – surgeons, theatre nurses, anaesthetist and cleaner to the hospital team for administration and ensuring the equipment is available, pharmacy and laboratory, everyone helped to make this a success.
Both Xoagus and Shivera said that there were risks involved in the operation, especially because of the age of the patient.
Shivera said that the younger the patient, the higher the risk of the anaesthetic complications.
“The site and size of the lesion made it difficult to manage the airway in order to connect to the lung machine during the operation,” Shivera explained.
Xoagus added that there are major anaesthetic risks that come with operating on a small baby for a  long time. She further said that the surgical risks are bleeding, infections such as meningitis, brain abscess, wound infection and cerebrospinal fluid which is fluid covering the brain leaking.
The baby is currently recovering at the hospital and the mother told The Patriot that they may be discharged next week.
“I want to thank them very much. May God bless them very much,” the mother said.

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