Ghana: Volta Region receives an unprecedented number of free reconstructive surgeries
In its 14 years of operation, RESTORE Worldwide, Inc.: The Foundation for Reconstructive Surgery sets a record high for 174 life-changing interventions in Ho, Ghana.
The Volta Region of Ghana last week welcomed for the first time, the RESTORE team led by
world-renowned Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael K. Obeng. This year’s group of volunteers included a dentist and a chiropractor for the first time.
In total there were 33 volunteers, including seven surgeons, an internist, a general practitioner, two anesthesiologists, a nurse anesthetist, a physician assistant, two surgical nurses, three surgical technologists, and four registered nurses. The remaining members of the team comprised a statistician and administrators.
The mission saw over 200 patients being transformed including 174 lives being impacted
predominantly through surgical operations, dental tooth extractions, and chiropractic skeletal manipulations.
The team screened over 500 patients from different parts of the country and from all walks of life mainly in two days. A record high 135 surgeries in four and a half working days were performed. This surpasses the previous record of 111 surgeries completed in Dakar, Senegal in December 2021.
The dedicated and compassionate group of individuals from different backgrounds met in Ghana from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Mali, Senegal, and Ghana.
The community at large was impacted by this altruistic mission and the indelible mark that the team left in the hearts of Voltarians and Ghanaians as a whole is immeasurable.
The CEO of Ho Teaching Hospital, Dr. John Tampuori, who himself is a urologist was pleased beyond measure. He adds, “When the RESTORE team told me about their lofty target of 120 surgeries, I was a bit skeptical, but they have done what ‘God’ can do.”
Honourable Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency, expressed immense gratitude to the point of joyful tears as he witnessed first-hand the lives that were transformed.
“I will make sure the RESTORE team comes to this area every single year whether I am in government or not. I will like to see my people happy,” says Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa.
The Ho Teaching Hospital and the community at large were happy to see Hon. Ablakwa so intimately involved with the RESTORE mission to the Volta Region.
Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa continues, “I am delighted that a good number of our compatriots outside the Volta Region also benefited. We are eternally indebted to Dr. Obeng and the RESTORE team.”
Dr. Michael K. Obeng expressed his sentiments during the closing ceremony, “I know we can do better as a country. Ghana has some of the most brilliant minds and most of our natural resources are untapped.
There is a great amount of wealth in this country and our people should have better access to health. Health is wealth and a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.” The team conducted various degrees of surgeries on life-threatening conditions.
There was a preponderance of thyroid-related diseases (goiters), gigantic facial tumors, the usual burn scar deformities causing functional impairment as well as the unprecedented number of ambiguous genitalia which carries with it social stigmatization that has prompted most of these subsets of patients contemplating suicide.
On Wednesday, October 12, the team successfully conducted the first gender re-affirmation surgery, the first of its kind in the Region on a 19-year true intersex (hermaphrodite) who was raised and has been living as a girl since birth.
Another major procedure executed by the team was a hemi-maxillectomy, followed by reconstruction on an elderly woman with a tumor engulfing half of her face.
Also, the team successfully removed a tumor from an 11-year-old boy that wrapped around cranial nerves 11 & 12 and the common carotid artery at its bifurcation, a surgery that had been attempted twice by local surgeons but with futility because of the vital structures mentioned above.
A 3-kilogram goiter that had been present for 31 years in a 60-year-old woman who has been shunned by her family was also successfully removed by the team.
This complex group of surgeries was led by Otolaryngologist Col. Dr. Cheikh Ahmedou Lame from L’Hopital de Dakar, Senegal. He was thrilled, to say the least.
The Director of Medical Affairs for the RESTORE team, Dr. Paa Ekow Hoyte-Williams of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital was pleased to see the success of this mission not to mention the safety measures that the team had implemented to prevent any catastrophes.
He said, “all these were life-transforming surgeries, and it is an amazing initiative because all these have been done at no cost to the patients.”
This mission also saw a large number of German volunteers led by Dr. Mehmet Atila of Medical Inn in Düsseldorf, Germany.
In addition to the above-named surgeons, this trip included a superb group of surgeons; Col Dr. Raccine Kane, Professor, and Head of Urology of L’Hopital de Dakar, Senegal, Dr. Dembele, Chief of Plastic Surgery in Mali dubbed by the team ‘The Machine’ for his surgical prowess, and Dr. Marco from Germany.
The team worked an average of 15 hours per day, and they cannot wait for their next assignment in Cameroon in February 2023.
In closing remarks, the leader of the team Dr. Obeng expressed his gratitude to the people of the Volta Region, Dr. John Tampuori and the Ho Teaching Hospital, and Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa for their support.
This trip would not have been this successful without the contributions from the Volta Serene Hotel, Mr. Yaw Boakye of Westone Limited, Ghana, Nana Kwame Bediako (Freedom Jacob Caesar) of Belair Crest Hotel in Accra, and one of RESTORE’s biggest contributors, Ms. Feysan Lodde of MV Transportation in the United States.
Dawn M. Sutherland, the Director of International Relations, and an expat from the United States was lost for words about the success of this mission.
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She expressed how she wished many successful individual Ghanaians and companies could be part of this noble cause to bring much-needed relief to our own ‘backyards’. “Whatever you do, when you see someone that doesn’t look good, know that they can be changed.”
She further commended the management and staff of the Ho Teaching Hospital over the clean nature of the facility and the display of dedication from staff before, during, and after the mission, saying, “we have been to a lot of hospitals, but this hospital was the best hospital.”
Dr. Michael K. Obeng recognized the myriad of people working behind the scenes whose tireless efforts made this RESTORE’s biggest mission ever. He made special mention of Ghanaian attorney, socialite, and philanthropist, Penelope M. Jones-Mensah, and expressed his gratitude to her.
Most of the team members left Ghana over the weekend and they go back to their busy lives without skipping a beat.
They are thrilled to do it again and they are so proud of themselves and their can-do spirit as they chant their slogan, #whateverittakes.
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