Vryheid woman takes heart after innovative medical procedure

05 October 2018 - 14:47 By Nivashni Nair
Global cardiology expert Dr Ralf Birkemeyer from Germany and local cardiologist Dr Sanjay Maharaj unblocked Johanna van Rooyen's artery using a guide wire‚ balloons and stents.
Global cardiology expert Dr Ralf Birkemeyer from Germany and local cardiologist Dr Sanjay Maharaj unblocked Johanna van Rooyen's artery using a guide wire‚ balloons and stents.
Image: Supplied

Johanna van Rooyen was a bundle of nerves when she left her home in Vryheid at 1am on Tuesday to make the four-hour drive to Pietermaritzburg.

The 60-year-old was scheduled to be the first patient to undergo a highly specialised and relatively new procedure in South Africa.

Chronic total occlusion revascularisation is a cardiac intervention that unblocks a blocked coronary artery without having to undergo bypass surgery.

Van Rooyen’s main coronary artery had been obstructed for more than three months.

World-renowned cardiologist Dr Ralf Birkemeyer‚ from Germany‚ and local cardiologist Dr Sanjay Maharaj unblocked Van Rooyen's artery using a guide wire‚ balloons and stents.

Midlands Medical Centre spokesman Kavith Harrilall said only a few hospitals in South Africa had conducted the innovative procedure.

"The procedure produces better cardiovascular outcomes and enhanced quality of life [for] patients‚ on the whole. Furthermore‚ it reduces the number of patients who require bypass surgeries‚ which is significant as some of these patients are not fit enough for a bypass‚" he added.

On Friday afternoon‚ Van Rooyen was recovering well at home.

"The procedure went well and at most times I felt nothing much and was not in pain for most part. It was actually nice to know that an expert from overseas assisted with this procedure on me as well‚" she said.

Birkemeyer was in Pietermaritzburg for a workshop at the Midlands Medical Centre where the new procedure was the main topic.

"The workshop was about exchanging ideas and best practice as South Africa has a lot to offer the global community when it comes to best practice in cardiology‚" Harrilall said.

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