Posted on 14 September, 2015

Saturday afternoon saw ten new faces arrive in Tonga. With a change of focus from children to adults, we’ve said goodbye to some of our paediatric specialists and we’ve been joined by adult specialisits to take their place. The adult surgical team is led by surgeon Dr Bruce French who told me that he really looks forward to the biennial Tonga visit.


Adult surgery commenced Sunday afternoon, and two patients are already in ICU. It did not take long at all for the new members to orientate themselves around the Hospital and discover how it all works.

We are aiming for 12 surgeries this week if all goes to plan. The team are certainly excited to get stuck into the second week of surgeries, hopefully making it 29 cases complete in 10 full operating days.

While I work for Open Heart International, it is very much in a non-medical role! Not having a medical background can have its challenges, but I am slowly becoming more comfortable with all the “medical talk”. Over the last year I have learnt all the parts of the heart so that when people speak to me about the different types of surgery, I don’t look like a “dear in headlights”!

There are four main valves for the heart, and this week there will be plenty of MVRs, which I proudly know stands for Mitral Valve Replacement. 10 of the 12 planned surgeries are having this done, with some patients having other valves in their heart replaced as well. I am told the mitral valve is the most commonly affected valve by rheumatic heart disease. If this week’s surgery list is anything to base that statistic off, it is certainly correct.

Most of the children have left from last week’s surgery with only a handful left on the ward. We are hoping to discharge them tomorrow morning. The last few kids were all playing memory together this morning in their rooms.


Tags:  Tonga,