From Steve Oko, Umuahia
There is now hope for patients with kidney- related ailments particularly those from South East and South South zones of the country as the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Abia State, has commenced kidney transplant. The hospital has since December 2017, successfully carried out four kidney transplants. The cost of the surgeries, drugs and treatments was entirely borne by the hospital and its foreign partners.
It is estimated that Kidney transplantation abroad costs about N10 million while doing same in the country may cost less than half of the stated amount. Investigations also revealed that patients with kidney related diseases top the list of Nigerians on medical trips abroad especially to India.
Symptoms of Kidney disease, according to experts include: High blood pressure, changes in the quantity and frequency of passing urine, change in the colour of urine, pain in the Kidney areas, tiredness, loss of appetite, sleeping difficulties and headache. Others are: loss of concentration, itching, shortness of breath, bad breath and metallic taste in the mouth, muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, pins and needle like pains in the fingers and toes.
Medical exploits at the FMC Umuahia particularly in kidney health care delivery under the leadership of the incumbent Medical Director, Dr. Abali Chuku are unprecedented. Under his watch, the Hospital has become the pioneer medical institution in the South- East /South- South zones to carry out successful Kidney transplants. Patients from the two zones and beyond suffering from kidney disorder can now conveniently access medical care from the Centre and at reasonable cost compared to what obtains in other kidney transplant centres.
The management of the hospital under Dr. Chuku had entered into an agreement with the University of Toledo on partnership in kidney transplants. According to the MD, 40 kidney transplants are expected to be conducted at FMC Umuahia in 2018 alone. To consummate the MoU and to begin to improve the capacity and expertise of the doctors that participated in the kidney transplant surgeries, Dr. Chuku in April, 2017 sent them to Ohio to observe live transplants of kidney at the University Medical Centre.
The FMC team also spent time studying the rudiments of the complicated nature of kidney transplant so as to perfect in managing any complications when the exercise eventually commences at home. Such efforts and precautionary measures have indeed paid off following the rapid recovery of the patients of the two batches of transplants so far conducted which were managed by the local team.
The first transplant was conducted on December 7 and 8 2017, while the second exercise was done on January 24, and 25 2018 by a 15 member medical team of FMC Umuahia. By these feats, FMC Umuahia is gradually consolidating its reputation as a centre of excellence in Kidney transplantation.
The surgeries were successfully carried with the procedure lasting more than 10 hours between procurement of the kidney from the donor and transplant to the receiver.
The surgical procedure was carried out by a team of surgeons led by Dr. Obi Ekwenna a Nigerian-American from University of Toledo Medical Centre, Ohio, United States of America. And other members of the medical team from FMC Umuahia are Dr. George Okwudili Acho, Dr. Mgbeojedo Chizoba, Dr. Chimezie Okwuonu, Dr. Ezieule Victor, Dr. Ngwu Paul, and Dr. Ngwu Daberechi.
This success story is a positive outcome of the induction of Dr. Chuku into the Medical Mission Hall of Fame, University of Toledo Medical Centre, renowned globally for its expertise in kidney transplant. He was also designated a Distinguished Global Faculty Member of the University.
Speaking with The Authority on the medical exploits, the MD said the gesture was aimed at helping kidney patients especially the indigent ones who cannot afford to seek medical treatment abroad. He noted that kidney related ailments accounts for about seven per cent of admitted patients in the hospital. He said he was determined to end the nightmare of patients with kidney diseases by making the hospital a solution centre for the deadly disease. Dr. Chuku added that
the exercise was a skill transfer session which FMC Umuahia hoped to run for four years to enable the Centre to fully optimize the transfer skills from the partnership with the University of Toledo Medical Centre.
The MD appreciated the Kidney donors for their courage to make the sacrifice. He hinted that his vision is to make Kidney transplant in the hospital the cheapest in the country. According to him, the hospital’s Kidney Foundation hopes to subsidize each transplant to less than N3.5 million, which will make it far cheaper than other Centres in the country. He appealed to well-meaning Nigerians and Philanthropists to key into the project, stressing that Kidney transplant is cheaper than Renal Dialysis in the long run.
The lead surgeon from the University of Toledo Medical Centre, Dr. Ekwenna attested to the success of the entire procedure which he attributed to team work. He emphasized that collective effort of the surgical team was a necessary condition for success in such a procedure. He commended the surgical skill of the Nigeria Surgeons who he said needed little guidance to be able to undertake a successful kidney transplant. Dr. Ekwenna said both the donors and the recipients were doing beautifully well, assuring that the donors whom he referred to as heroes would live normal life.
One of the two patients who had Kidney transplants last year is 37 year old Mr. Orji Ogbonanya Ule, a business man who said he had had kidney problem for four years. His new Kidney was donated by his 58 years old uncle who is a Civil Servant. The other patient was a 68 years old Medical Doctor whose own Kidney problem was diagnosed four months before the surgery. His own new Kidney was donated by a Security man who is his relation. Both patients in an interview with our correspondent expressed gratitude to Dr. Chuku and the team of doctors who attended to them for giving them “another chance to live a new life”. They said their recovery rate was very rapid beyond their expectation.
Excited by the medical exploit, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has visited the hospital to encourage the management and team of experts. He also visited the patients as well as the donors and expressed delight at their rapid recovery.
The Minister described the FMC Umuahia under Dr Abali Chuku as one of the up-coming Federal medical institutions whose breakthroughs elate the federal government. “I am more than impressed with its breakthrough in Kidney transplantation”, he had said. Professor Adewole also described the MD, Dr. Chuku as “a Magician and a go getter”.
These medical exploits would be better appreciated considering that FMC Umuahia is not a Teaching Hospital where breakthroughs in varied aspects of medical practice are usually expected. Secondly, FMC Umuahia has become the first medical institution in the South East zone to undertake kidney transplant and the only currently undertaking the procedure in the region. Apart from medical exploits and improved facilities and hospital equipment, the internal roads in the hospital have also received a face lift under the Dr. Chuku – led management.
The medical feat at FMC Umuahia is expected to propel other federal Medical Centres to break the glass ceiling and reach for the sky with respect to medical research and practice in various aspects of medicine. FMC Umuahia has demonstrated conclusively that medical feats are no longer the exclusive prerogatives of Teaching Hospitals.