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Hospital conducts first awake brain surgery

Health & Science - By Mercy Kahenda | October 19th 2015 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Irene Marigu had been having severe headache accompanied by lack of appetite.

What she did not know was that she was developing a brain tumour that could have led to loss of eyesight.

Ms Marigu's health condition worsened last year and was admitted at a Embu hospital and later referred to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) where she was later to be diagnosed with a brain tumour.

She is now a happy mother, having undergone a successful first 'awake surgery' at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, Nakuru, last week.

The operation, the first in the county and at the facility, was conducted by neurosurgeons from KNH in collaboration with University of Toronto in Canada and Egerton University.

Her husband, Samuel Kimani, informed The Standard that while at Kenyatta, she was referred to the Rift Valley General Hospital.

"I am a happy man seeing my wife's pain relieved after the operation. She has been having severe headache and could not eat well," said Mr Kimani.

He added Marigu first developed blood pressure that was treated in Embu but the pain did not go away. She later developed severe headache that affected her normal operation.

He said her wife could not travel in public means as she felt unease, could vomit and lost appetite.

"Nobody suspected my wife was developing brain tumor. On reporting to Kenyatta, I was told her condition required immediate operation to save her life, and I am happy to see her stable after surgery," he said.

He said his wife's pain is no more after the first operation.

Cost effective

Another patient, Harrison Ochieng, who developed blood clot on his brain after an accident two weeks ago is now able to interact with ease after the operation.

Mr Ochieng was admitted at the facility with a history of persistent headache, and after conducting a CT scan, he was diagnosed with a blood clot.

Ochieng, a small business operator, is in a stable condition and is expected to join his relatives soon.

"The headache was so painful, but here I am in stable condition and able to communicate with people," he said.

KNH neurosurgeon Samuel Njiru said the 'awake surgery' is conducted when a patient is not sedated like conventional operation where a patient is provided with anesthesia that sends him to sleep before actual operation.

Dr Njiru said the operation allows a doctor to monitor the patient so that the procedure followed does not compromise functions of any part of the body.

He said though there had been such an operation at the facility, doctors have been operating using conventional way; putting a patient to sleep before surgery.

The surgery, he said, is effective since it does not require use of expensive machines, and does not need anesthetic drugs that are expensive.

"The surgery reduces the need for postoperative intensive care monitoring and requires fever monitoring devices as compared to conventional way," said Njiru.

He said the operating neurosurgeons are training other doctors to help reduce congestion at KNH that has more than 400 patients waiting for brain tumor operation.

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