Posted on 28 April, 2015

We now see the team in full flight – four operations completed, and the first of the patients out of ICU and settled in the ward.

Two operations were scheduled for yesterday, however a delay in the sterilisation of equipment meant that only one was performed.

A highlight for the day was the delivery of equipment and supplies which had been delayed through customs. Shortages were threatening the team’s ability to operate, so the arrival of team leader Andrew Bullock with the first boxes raised a cheer from the surgery staff.


The surgical team are a vital part to the project, supporting and training local surgeon Godwin Sharau, as well as training his support team and theatre nursing staff. Throw in many interested and curious student doctors, and the theatre was standing room only for today’s operation on 10-year-old Paulo.

It was an interesting dynamic with all team members playing a teaching role, including Anaesthetist Andrew Weatherall and perfusionist Nigel Slade, who faced the added challenge of using unfamiliar equipment today.

Scrub nurses were taught the importance of passing equipment in the right way. As cardiac surgeons wear loupes, their peripheral vision is impaired, and unlike in other surgery, they cannot reach for equipment, so rely on nurses to safely place instruments into their hands.

Learning how to pass blades and sharp instruments correctly is a vital skill for nurses, both to assist with the surgery, but to ensure the safety of the surgeon and other staff at the table. Nurses Cath Howard and Jen Evans were vigilant in supervising and educating the local nurses on correct procedure.

As most of the theatre staff worked with the team when they were in Mwanza in November, this was a welcome refresher course. The final team member to arrive, Jen, was welcomed with hugs and kisses from the local nurses.

Photo (L)Theatre nurse Jenn Evans was welcomed as an old friend. Photo (R)Anaesthetist Andrew Weatherall and surgeon David Andrews discuss the upcoming operation with Godwin Sharau

Back in ICU, the team were busy managing three patients, one of whom, little Sikudani was moved to the ward after lunch yesterday. 7-year-old Maneno was making good progress, blowing bubbles as physiotherapy to assist with his recovery.

Photo (L)One of yesterday’s surgery patients, 7yo Maneno blows bubbles as a part of his physiotherapy in ICU.Photo (R) Sikudani (10 months) is carried to the ward by her mum after being released from ICU.

Ward nurses Steph Davis and Julie Ibbitson were kept busy with the first little patient, Crispina, whose recovery is going well, and a little boy who is due for surgery tomorrow. Crispina’s mum has been helpful in talking to the other mothers of children awaiting surgery, reducing their understandable anxiety.

Steph and Julie have also been busy sharing their knowledge with the hospital’s ward staff, most of whom have not cared for cardiac patients.


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