September 2021, Lagos Nigeria - Hammed Afolabi, arrived unexpectantly at First Cardiology Hospital in Lagos after hearing about VOOM Foundations partnership with the Healthy Heart Foundation/Nigeria to provide free open-heart surgery to patients in need. Hammed is a married indigent with three young children and runs a three-wheel bicycle to support his family. His job is the lifeline to his family’s success.
Hammed and his family live at the airport in Ibadan, Nigeria. His wife sells biscuits to supplement their income. Hammed did not have any means to take care of his health nor could he afford the cost of open-heart surgery.
His heart condition, mitral valve regurgitation has deteriorated over time and he has difficulty performing his job which is essential to the lifeline of his family. When our team first discussed surgery options with Hammed and the need for follow-up blood thinners and routine labs, he felt he had little option as he could not even afford $40 a month for medications and this meant not having the ability to feed his family. Basically, he was left with a choice between his health and taking care of his family.
Due to these circumstances, Hammed might not be a good candidate for surgery because of his inability to afford follow-up care. This decision did not sit well with our medical team as we knew his family would probably not survive without his income. We agonized over what would happen to his children if he did not have this surgery. How would they survive and what would their future hold? How would they eat? After further discussions among our team and the willingness of others to move Hammed and his family forward, partners from both the United States of America and Nigeria moved into action.
Stepping up to the call, Oakwood Baptist Church in New Braunfels, Texas/U.S. and the Healthy Heart Foundation/Nigeria provided funds for Hammed to receive free surgery.* To address the issue of follow -up care costs, a local Nigerian cardiologist in Hammed’s hometown of Ibadan agreed to pay for his follow-up testing and medications for his lifetime. VOOM Foundation agreed to financially support his family during his 8-week recovery. Edwards Lifesciences and industry partners donated heart valves, critical care monitors and consumable supply to effectively treat Hammed and remove financial burdens. The Thoracic Surgery Foundation financially support the VOOM Foundation mission and vision to train and educate while serving the poor, allowing us to enter the country and provide surgery to Hammed. Without any of these pieces who knows what the fate of Hammed and his family would endure. VOOM partners aligned and together we have moved this family toward a better future and have provided hope to the hopeless.
Hammed received open-heart surgery on Thursday, September 23, 2021. His surgery was performed by VOOM cardiothoracic surgeons, Dr. Jeff McNeil and Ayodele Osasona and assisted by the local surgeon in training Dr. Bode Falase. Hammed spent two days in the ICU and was moved to the step-down-ward on Saturday, September 25 where he is expected to fully recover. He is expected to be discharged on September 28, 2021. VOOM has transferred the funds for his family to survive during his follow-up care. Together, we changed the course of this family’s life.
This is not an isolated story in Nigeria. Nigeria is a country of over 200M in population and almost 50% of the country is impoverished and making health decisions based of financial means. The healthcare system is collapsing as the entire country struggles to keep themselves healthy.
One of the continued issues VOOM Foundation and our medical teams face as we move forward with our work is the cost of healthcare and patient affordability related to cost of consumable supply. Many consumables cannot be sourced within the country which makes open-heart procedures difficult to access and emphasizes the importance of VOOM bringing in donated goods. Industry partners remove these burdens allowing VOOM to carry forth our work and the patient to receive care that would otherwise be unaffordable and unattainable. We cannot thank our partners enough for the support and vision to help us move forward. You are our unsung heroes.
*VOOM Foundation is a 100% volunteer medical team. We do not charge for the cost of surgery as our services are free. Any patient’s costs associated with our patients is related to patient’s pre-op workup, surgical drugs, consumable supply, hospital stay and post-op visit. We sign memorandum of understanding with each hospital to control patient cost.
ABOUT VOOM FOUNDATION
VOOM Foundation is a private international medical humanitarian organization made up of volunteer doctors, nurses, health workers and many other support professionals who contribute to the mission of the VOOM Foundation.
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