Report of CardioStart’s 7th Mission to
Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital

Kumasi, Ghana

February 14 – 26, 2016

On February 14, 2016 twenty-three CardioStart International volunteers from seven different countries advanced an ongoing cardiovascular program-development effort at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana.   Comprehensive techniques in both adult cardiac surgery and electrophysiology were the focus of this visit, which was CardioStart’s seventh collaborative mission at KATH committed to teaching at this important training institution in West Africa.

Apart from KATH, there is a single center in all of Ghana performing a small volume of cardiac cases to primarily serve patients who can afford the high fees which put advanced care out of reach for most Ghanaians. KATH serves a regionally more deprived population.

A patient preparing for discharge after surgery stops at the pharmacy to learn about her prescriptions

A patient preparing for discharge after surgery stops at the pharmacy to learn about her prescriptions

19 patients received cardiovascular care they desperately needed and included: eight valve replacements/repairs, as well as congenital and other complex cardiac surgeries were performed as well as 11 internal cardiac defibrillator insertions and pacemaker procedures. All patients did well and were discharged to home within one week of conclusion of the mission. This marked the significant milestone of the first ICD placement in all of West Africa, allowing KATH to be the institution credited with this achievement under the guidance of CardioStart cardiologists.

Another distinct honor was selection by the government of Sierra Leone to entrust the life of an 18 y/o boy to the CardioStart International / KATH team to provide urgent cardiac surgery that wasn’t possible anywhere in his home or surrounding countries. CardioStart International was recommended by the Pan-African Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery to the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health, and following various diplomatic communications he was successfully transferred, evaluated, and surgically treated with a very favorable outcome. This was not only a tribute to the truly international vision championed by CardioStart and shared by KATH, but served to connect two regions with acute and chronic specialist healthcare deprivation, and provided a template to assist future improvements in medical standards assurance for resource-limited areas.

Beyond Surgery

There are so many factors that contribute to the success of a cardiovascular program independent of the actual operation; we aim to support & enhance alł of these areas.

Our Ghana mission included CardioStart respiratory therapists who were able to educate all involved on the concepts of arterial blood gas interpretation, ventilator management and strategies to minimize the amount of time patients spend requiring the breathing machine.

CardioStart International nurses make some of our most important & lasting contributions to developing programs; they partner 24/7 at the bedside with local nurses to provide collegial assistance, education, and guidance directed toward the care of the cardiac patient. On this mission, our nurses were able to provide this collaboration in varied settings caring for open heart surgical patients in the ICU, the ‘step-down’ unit for postoperative patients, as well as telemetry monitoring following pacemaker and defibrillator procedures.

In addition to the constant bedside teaching, numerous ongoing educational reviews were carried out in small groups, covering topics such as ventilator management, ECG interpretation, hemodynamics, advanced patient assessment, and trouble-shooting issues with monitoring lines, chest tubes, and pacemakers.


Emily Farkas MD (Mission Co-Director, Cardiac Surgeon, USA)

Phil Wendschuh MD (Mission Co-Director, Cardiologist, USA)

Clement Akomea-Agyin MD (Cardiac Surgeon, UK/Ghana)

Raamesh Koirala MD (Cardiac Surgeon, Nepal)

Tom Carrigan MD (Cardiologist, USA)

Rafel Atassi MD (Cardiologist, USA/Syria)

Akinola Akinyemi MD (Anesthesiologist, Nigeria)

Linda Lundeen RN (Operating Room Nurse, USA)

Ariyo Idowu CCP (Perfusionist, Nigeria)

Ahmses Maat CCP, RRT(Perfusionist, Respiratory Therapist, USA)

Rita Larbie CCP, RRT (Perfusionist, Respiratory Therapist, USA/Ghana)

Amos Dantene BMT (Biomedical Engineer, Ghana)

Akumah Trust BMT(Biomedical Engineer, Ghana)

Jennifer Timberlake RN(ICU Charge Nurse, USA)

Deborah Siameh RN (ICU Nurse, USA/Ghana)

Kate Earley RN (ICU Nurse, Canada)

Alissa Medeiros RN (CICU Nurse, Canada)

Alex Ward RN (CICU Nurse, Canada)

Elizabeth Mason RN (CICU Nurse, Australia)

Tammy Joseph RN (CICU Nurse, Australia)

Danielle Shrewsberry, RN, CCM (ICU Nurse, Case Manager, USA)

Timothy Asari PT (Physiotherapist, Ghana)

Van-Trang Nguyen (Database Manager, Patient/Family Liaison, USA/Vietnam)

24The team was thrilled to have a former patient from the 2014 CardioStart mission at KATH return for a check-up.

This patient had almost died during childbirth, had never been well enough to care for her newborn, and had been bedridden after delivery for months until her double-valve surgery.

She is pictured here after surgery in 2014 (L) walking for the first time in 6 months and in 2016 (R) returning for a check-up with her daughter.


CardioStart International wishes to extend their sincere appreciation to all donors and supporters of the charity, but would like to offer special thanks for this mission to :

  1. Rotary International, Kumasi District for their support of this CardioStart mission at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.
  2. Amy Lauth Foundation for Administrative and logistics (equipment donation) with special thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Robert McNichols and their Board.
  3. Medtronic / ATS for donation of heart valves, implantable devices, cardiothoracic disposables. Special thanks to Ms. Folarnie Akinrinlola for on-site representation and technical support.
  4. Scanlan Inc., for surgical instrument availability and donations.
  5. Abbott Point of Care for I-Stat equipment and disposables.
  6. Edwards LifeSciences Inc., for equipment donations.
  7. Mercy Regional Medical Center, with special thanks to Ms. Sarah Sullen, for facilitating the donation of pharmaceutical supplies.
  8. ThedaCare Appleton Medical Center for medication, surgical supply, and disposable materials donation.
  9. Pan-African Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery, with special thanks to Dr. Charles Yankah, for the facilitation of international patient logistics.
  10. Shona Hamilton for fundraising efforts and logistical support.
  11. Dr. Anthony D’Souza for echocardiography machine donation.
  12. Ms. Janine Henson, Ms. Charlotte Kozlin & Ms. Nadine Nuchovich for CardioStart Office Administration.