Heart / Cardiothoracic Centre.

The Cardiothoracic Unit of the Department of Surgery, UNTH has been working since the sixties and in 1974 1st open heart surgery in Nigeria was performed. Many thoracic cases, open heart surgery, pacemaker insertion, cardiac catheterization among others were being handled as routine programmes.
In 1984 UNTH was declared National Cardiothoracic Centre of Excellence. Prof Ransome- Kuti, the then Minister of Health promised to upgrade the centre’s activities to world class with exception of heart transplant programme. Mission of the centre is to make significant impact through prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, with excellence in cardiothoracic surgery,  manpower training and cardiovascular research.
There are categories of service areas that make up the centre. These are namely cardiothoracic and vascular surgery, cardiology, cardiac anaesthesia, intensive care, biomedical engineering, theatre, pharmacy, laboratory medicine, physiotherapy, administration and support units. Intensive care of patients has evolved  as this takes place hand in hand with the activities of the centre at the Intensive  Care Unit (ICU). Vision is that by 2013, all the activities of the centre would be in one stop shop with Cath Lab and other state of the art equipment for comprehensive cardiovascular evaluation and intervention.
The centre has 4 committees that help to run the centre on behalf of UNTH Management. These are Logistics/Planning Committee, Fund Raising/Publicity Committee, Procurement/Cost Committee and Management Committee of the Commercialized Centre of Excellence.
In 2000 Dr Menakaya, former Minister of Health commissioned the building housing the centre in Enugu. Kanu Heart Foundation trip to Nigeria was hosted by the centre in June 2003. Open heart surgery programme stopped  in September 2005 with exit of our perfusionist. From 1974 to 2000, 102 open heart surgeries were done at the centre.
From 1985 to 2009, thirteen (13) cardiothoracic surgeons and about the same number of cardiologists had been trained and certificated to become consultants. From 2002 to 2008, ninety one (91) cardiothoracic and intensive care nurses were trained at the Cardiothoracic School of Nursing which is an affiliate of NCTCE. These are apart from numerous resident doctors and other staff who had rotated at the centre as part of their training requirements by their various faculties.
With the movement of UNTH in January 2007 to permanent site at Ituku –Ozalla, activities of the centre became scattered in the hospital.  Work is going on but at a low level. Partnership in areas of training and patient care with Innova Children’s Heart Hospital, India in 2005 has led to over ten UNTH staff being accepted for training in various departments. Currently two members of staff are undergoing clinical perfusion training which is very necessary for restart of open heart programme at UNTH. Some of our patients are also referred to this Indian centre.
Lack of a central building for serious and coordinated activity for the departments that make up the cardiothoracic centre is a major challenge. The centre has basic equipment for practice and is expecting new set of research and training equipment from Vice Chancellor, UNN. Carrying out the building project under Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement is an option interested party can buy into. Other existing limitations are inadequate fund for training and research, poor power supply and deficiency in equipment maintenance.


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