June 14, 2024

Celebrated Ghanaian physician and cardiac surgeon Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng has shared the challenges he faced at Ghana’s premier hospital, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, when he returned from Germany to establish the country’s Cardiothoracic Centre.

As a developing country with a struggling healthcare system, one would have thought that the arrival of the country’s first cardiothoracic surgeon, who would not only practice but actively push for better cardio care, would have received all the support he needed.

However, speaking on Joynews on Friday, April 5, 2024, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng revealed the challenges he faced at Korle Bu, including attempts by some medical doctors to sabotage him.

“For example, …that I should not be given a ward; I didn’t have a ward to admit patients initially when I came. That’s why I was determined to build [a Cardiothoracic Centre]. I didn’t have an operating theatre; I didn’t have people to help me; I didn’t even have doctors to help me.

“In the first few years, I was alone, taking blood from patients, taking them to the lab, and running all the errands that a housemaster should be doing. I did all these things, and people were just trying to make sure that things became tough, and we wouldn’t get on,” he said.

He said that at some point, some doctors decided to ensure that some patients would die and also to make sure that their deaths would be blamed on him.

According to Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, thanks to an anaesthetist who disclosed the plot to him, some patients were saved from a plan to tamper with machines at the Intensive Care Unit. This could have resulted in fatalities, for which he would have been wrongly blamed.

“Someone even suggested to the head of anaesthesia that they should go and fiddle with the equipment at the Intensive Care Unit so that when patients are put on them, they will die, and I would be discredited,” he revealed.

He added that the doctor backed down on his plot after the head of anaesthesia demanded a written version of the plan.

“So the head of anaesthesia told him to put it on paper… Of course, he will not do it. So he [head of anaesthesia] came to me and said, Kwabena, be careful. And, of course, what that person (the doctor) did subsequently told me that I had to be very careful,” he stated.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, after obtaining a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree from the University of Ghana Medical School in 1975, travelled to Germany, where he pursued further training in cardiothoracic surgery in Hanover, where he earned his specialisation.

He returned to Ghana at the age of 39 and served as the country’s first and only cardiothoracic surgeon for several years, establishing himself as a pioneer in this field.

He performed numerous successful heart surgeries, including open-heart surgeries, making significant contributions to Ghana’s healthcare system.

His expertise in cardiothoracic surgery earned him recognition both nationally and internationally.

Almost 35 years after leading the establishment of the National Cardiothoracic Centre, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng has bemoaned its current state and the lack of efforts to improve it.

In August 2011, the renowned surgeon was sacked as head of the Korle-Bu Cardiothoracic Centre, a move that was criticised by many as unjust by the then government.

 

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