Surgeons at Health City Cayman Islands performed a free heart surgery on a young Jamaican woman this month.
The mother of a two-year-old child is the first recipient of free heart surgery under an initiative announced by Dr. Devi Shetty in 2012, in which he offered to perform free surgeries on 100 people.
Lesha Matthews, 25, was diagnosed with a heart condition as a child, and over the last six years, her condition worsened and she developed a leaking heart valve.
Her condition required surgery that Ms. Matthews could not afford, a statement released by the hospital this week said.
“One of the main valves in her heart was leaking severely and the pumping ability of the heart was compromised … it was decided to take her up for surgery at the earliest,” said Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, senior consultant at Health City.
Dr. Binoy came across the woman’s case a few months ago, after Dr. William Foster, her cardiologist in Kingston, sent out appeals to overseas hospitals for assistance.
“After detailed evaluation of all her reports, including the echocardiogram, we decided to invite her to Health City for the surgery,” said Dr. Binoy.
In 2012, before Health City Cayman Islands was built, Dr. Devi Shetty, who set up the East End Hospital, announced he would be offering 100 free heart surgeries to patients in the Cayman Islands, the Caribbean and Latin America.
Ms. Matthews’s transport to the airport was arranged by her doctor, and Cayman Airways donated the airfare for her flight. “I saw her off at the airport. As she sat in a wheelchair, she seemed apprehensive about going alone, but happy that a bright future lay ahead,” said Dr. Foster.
When she arrived at Health City, Dr. Binoy, found Ms. Matthews undernourished and frail due to her long-term heart disease. After seeing her condition, Dr. Binoy’s team of specialists opted to carry out a more complicated operation than originally planned.
“The plan was to repair the valve and not to replace it – even though repair is more technically challenging than replacing the valve – as replacing the valve with an artificial valve will make her dependent on blood-thinning medications for the rest of her life, with its associated complications,” explained Dr. Binoy.
The procedure took three and half hours.
“She was sitting on a chair the same evening sipping juice,” Dr. Binoy said. “She will be on a few medications for three months and after that she will be free from all medications. The prognosis for a healthy, normal life is a very good one.” Ms. Matthews returned home to Jamaica on Monday.