Northampton cardiac team to provide lifesaving operations in Nigeria
L-R- Dr Jonathan Timperley, Alisha King, Tara Kay and Julius Donkor
A team of four heart specialists from Northampton General Hospital are heading off on a trip of a lifetime to provide lifesaving care to patients in Nigeria.
Traveling with pacemaker charity Pace4Life, the team will make the 3,600-mile trip on 27 May to spend a week providing lifesaving treatments for patients with heart failure.
The team is made up of four colleagues from the Northampton Heart Centre, who are using their annual leave to support surgeons in Africa. Julius Donkor, Chief Cardiac Physiologist, Dr Jonathan Timperley, Consultant Cardiologist, Tara Kay, Junior Sister, and Alisha King, Superintendent Radiographer will all be travelling and working as volunteers for Pace4Life later this month.
Pace4Life are a UK charity who send recycled pacemakers to underserved countries around the world. These devices are then fitted to patients in countries where healthcare may not be affordable or easily available.
During the trip the team aim to provide training and share skills with the local cardiac teams in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria.
Julius, who was born in Ghana, has been supporting hospitals in his home country for many years after a trip to see his family.
He explained “It all started after I went back to Ghana for a trip after a long time of absence. While I was there my grandmother fell ill so I went into the hospital and saw what it was like out there and the difference between what we have in the UK. After that I made a promise to do what I could to do my best to help. I started collecting old stock such as test tubes and it just grew from there into visiting the hospitals and supporting with training and education. My church, the Church of Christ, supported me in paying for the cost of transportation of the donated medical items.
“Since I moved to Northampton the team at Northampton General have also supported and donated expired pacemakers/ICDs to hospitals in Africa.
“Pace4Life got in touch with me as they’d heard that I had contacts in Ghana and Nigeria and suggested working together using the contacts I have and my knowledge as a cardiac physiologist. So, from there we joined up and have been working together to help patients across west Africa to have access to lifesaving devices and treatment that we take for granted in the UK. Some of these sophisticated devices can significantly reduce the symptoms of heart failure and provide defibrillation therapy if a cardiac arrest event occurs.”
After a previous successful mission to Nigeria, Julius invited Dr Emmanual Edafe, an Interventional Cardiologist in Nigeria, to come along to learn from NGH teams. During the visit Dr Edafe spent time with Dr Timperley who specialises in complex device implants.
Dr Timperley explained how the volunteer team was assembled “The idea for the trip stemmed from Julius organising Dr Edafe to visit NGH. During the visit one of us said that it would be nice to come back the other way and visit the team in Dr Edafe’s hospital. So, from there the idea grew and volunteers came forward."
Tara explained why she wanted to get involved in the trip; “I’ve always wanted to do something like this and now my children are grown up this seemed like the perfect time. I really don’t know what to expect until we get there but I’m hoping we can to share ideas on how we do things and learn about what they do to get patients prepared for surgery”.
The final member of the team Alisha is taking on a different role to her day job. She added; “Julius mentioned about the work he was doing a while ago and I expressed an interest as a radiographer. This time they didn’t need anyone in a radiography role, but they did need a videographer, so I thought they’re kind of the same skills so went for it. So, my role will be to video the whole trip and then hopefully while I’m there I can also involve myself in the radiography side of things and share some skills too.”
The trip has been funded by Pace4life and the team are using their annual leave to undertake this humanitarian work. Pace4life has recently merged with UK charity Arrhythmia Alliance. If you would like to support them during their trip, please visit www.pace4life.org
Posted on Friday 26th May 2023