14-24th JANUARY 2012
This Operation Hernia mission was a collaboration between the Diakonessenhuis Utrecht and the Groene Hart ziekenhuis Gouda. A team of 4 surgeons and 2 surgical residents arrived in Accra, Ghana on the 14th of January.
On the 15th we made our way to Takoradi, where we were warmly welcomed by the ladies in the Government Guesthouse. On Monday morning we could finally start with our Operation Hernia!
The upcoming week we would perform our operations in three different hospitals: The Hernia Wing and The Harbor in Takoradi and finally the local hospital in Dixcove, a small village which is a 45minute drive from Takoradi. Each morning breakfast was prepared for us and we were picked up by a driver to bring us to the different hospitals.
In Takoradi we usually performed five to six operations: patients were preselected by a Ghanaian surgeon. On the morning of the operation we saw the patients and judged if we would perform the operation. Most patients had an inguinal hernia and unless the patient was not fit or the hernia was irreducible we would operate them. There were children as well as adults and we also treated some prisoners. Surgery was mostly performed under local or spinal anesthesia.
Some patients had a bilateral hernia, an (para-) umbilical hernia or a hernia cicatricalis (= a scar hernia caused by a previous operation).
In Dixcove there were not as many patients as we had hoped for: usually two or three a day. We usually had time to visit the village with the fortress by the sea or go to the market in Takoradi if we were scheduled for an operation day in Dixcove.
In all hospitals the OR personnel was good and spoke English very well, unfortunately the patients usually did not speak English and communication could be difficult.
A Ghanaian surgeon performed one surgery with our team on a patient with a large irreducible hernia. It was very useful to see how he performed the operation. Since they usually do not use a mesh he asked our team to finish the operation by placing the mesh. The meshes we did not use were left behind for the local surgeons to use. In total we treated approximately 65 patients.
After the last day of operations in Takoradi, we drove to the north during the nighttime. The road was uneven and because it was pitch black around us it was a spectacular ride. We arrived at Turtle Beach and could hardly see where we had arrived. But most important, we heard the wild sea and saw thousands of stars! The next two days were for relaxing, running and visiting the nearby village.
On Monday morning we were picked up by the driver and drove back to Accra. Along the way we stopped at the Cape Coast fortress, built by the English and also used by the Dutch to ship out slaves. After a last Ghanaian meal we were driven to the airport and said goodbye to Ghana: It was a wonderful experience!