Report from Christos Dervenis

7-14 SEPTEMBER 2007

It was a really unique experience. We could not imagine how happy all the team were with the hospitality and the kindness of all the people in the hospital and outside of it.

We left Athens on September the 7th, and after a one day stop in Dubai we arrived in Accra on Monday early morning September the 10th. We were 4 surgeons, the chief resident from my department, an anaesthetist and two scrub nurses. We had brought with us three huge packages with all the essential material for the surgical procedures (meshes and sutures, drugs and dressings, lancets and syringes, gloves and masks) thanks to donations from our hospital and the companies Ethicon and Bard. The sponsoring for our trip came from private companies and a small part from Tyco Hellas.

Custom clearance and the trip from Accra to Takoradi ran smoothly and we arrived at our hotel safely. Dr. Dr Boateng-Duah (Medical Director of Takoradi Hospital) was waiting for us and we had our first visit to the hospitals the same day. 60 (3 children) patients were screened and prepared with the necessary pre-op tests for surgery for the next four days. Three different groups were formed to operate using the three available theatres in two hospitals.

We had the basics at the theatres although the second one at Takoradi Hospital, where the Hernia Wing was, was not so good. We did most of the repairs with local anaesthesia although we used general anesthesia for the huge hernias and the children.

Finally we operated on 53 patients and we did 59 repairs (as some of the patients had bilateral hernias), and with the logistic support from the local people and especially for the chief nurses we did the work under the best possible conditions.

We have some social life in the beautiful tropical environment, although we worked so hard and we were very tired at the end of the day. This did not prevent us to swim and have fun with the big waves in the Atlantic ocean and the beautiful beaches. We were happy with the "official" dinner offered by the metropolitan chief executive (the "mayor") with very tasty local food. We used this opportunity to ask from him to help with the renewal of the second theater in Takoradi Hopsital. He promised it publicly and the people there were very happy (but you never know with the politicians all over the world!!!)

We left on Friday morning to Accra and on the way to the airport we stopped at the Kakum National Park and the Elmina Castle from where the slaves were sent to the Americas. It was a real experience and we suggest all the following missions to visit this place. We left Ghana with the best possible memories and we encourage everyone to go there and help the people and see a different world.

Christos Dervenis MD FRCS Head, 1st Department of Surgery
Agia Olga Hospital, Athens 14233 Greece