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02.04.2007 Health

Ghana Gets Fourth Heart Surgeon

The National Cardiothoracic Centre of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital on Monday produced the fourth Ghanaian medical doctor to be trained as a heart surgeon.

The West African College of Surgeons on Monday certified Dr Martin Tamatey as a qualified heart surgeon, after he had successfully passed the college's examination in Nigeria.

Dr Tamatey is the fourth Ghanaian heart surgeon to be trained at the National Cardiothoracic Centre, following in the steps of Dr Lawrence Siriboe, Dr Mark Mawutor Tettey and Dr Frank Edwin.

Beside these Ghanaians, the centre had, since its establishment in 1989, trained more than 20 heart surgeons for other African countries.

Dr Tamatey told the Daily Graphic yesterday that “qualifying as a heart surgeon is like a heavy burden lifted off my shoulder”.

According to him, the certification was the beginning of the challenge to learn more and work hard to bring relief to many Ghanaians.

He said the training programme had not been easy and expressed his appreciation to his family for the support and encouragement.

Dr Tamatey said the team spirit and the camaraderie at the centre had been a source of motivation for him, adding that the exemplary leadership, encouragement and guidance of Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Director of the centre, would forever remain imprinted in his mind.

“He does the work as anybody does and, therefore, you can only be part of the team if you are hardworking. Before anyone gets to the office, Prof Frimpong-Boateng is already there and has done most of the jobs awaiting us to discuss and move ahead,” he said.

Unlike other specialists, Dr Tamatey said, “Prof Frimpong-Boateng has handed the skill to us and nothing will be lost. For instance, in other places when the specialists are not in, nothing moves on, but at Cardio, it is a different thing.”

When contacted to comment on Dr Tamatey's certification, Prof Frimpong-Boateng said, “I feel good and proud. Now I can make myself redundant and go home on retirement and not worry about the availability of heart surgeons to take care of patients. I came here alone and now we are five. Hardly do I go to the theatre, except to have a look at some of the surgeries.”

Prof Frimpong-Boateng said his decision to enter into politics would not affect the running of the centre in any way, since the team spirit and work ethic at the centre would keep it running.

He said if more money was to be provided, other heart centres could be set up in other parts of the country for some of the Ghanaian heart surgeons to go and manage.

He disclosed that another Ghanaian would, in the next few months, qualify to bring the number of locally-trained heart surgeons to six, including himself.

Story by Albert K. Salia