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World class kidney transplant center on track

Executive Chairman of the First Sky Group, Eric Seddy Kutortse, has reiterated his company’s promise and determination to fully fund the establishment of a world-class kidney transplant center in the country as a long-term solution to addressing the challenges associated with the treatment of kidney dysfunction in the country.

Mr. Kutortse announced that a joint working committee has been formed, comprising staff of KBTH and First Sky Group, to ensure the realization of the project.

The committee is in the process of submitting a budget for approval for the establishment of the center and a training program for the team of local professionals who will staff the facility. This is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

These updates on the establishment of the Kidney Transplant Center were disclosed during a media briefing session to announce the successful kidney transplant procedure for two patients on July 4 and July 5, 2023, by a team of Ghanaian health experts at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital led by Prof. Matthew Kyei. The successful kidney transplant operations involved two recipient males and two donor females, all fully funded by First Sky Group.

Mr. Kutortse explained that the establishment and operationalization of a modern Kidney Transplant Center in Ghana, the first of its kind in West Africa, would serve patients within the country and the sub-region who otherwise would have been flown to India, South Africa, or elsewhere for medical attention. This would open access to affordable quality kidney dysfunction care while saving the economy millions of hard foreign currencies.

In 2016, the First Sky Group decided to support the Renal Dialysis Unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra by paying off all the medical bills of all patients at the facility and instituting free dialysis for patients who frequent the Unit and could not afford to pay for treatment.

“Many beneficiaries would have either lost their lives or would have been incapacitated by challenges with their kidney dysfunction. Since the inception of the program to date, the First Sky Group has spent over 30 million Ghanaian cedis (GH¢30,000,000.00) on the Free Dialysis Project,” Mr. Kutortse noted.

Mr. Kutortse stressed that First Sky Group remains committed to funding continuous free care and treatment to patients at the Renal Dialysis Unit at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) as well as free kidney transplants to those unable to afford the procedure once they meet the KBTH criteria.

The Chief Executive of KBTH, Dr. Opoku Ware Ampomah, indicated that to ensure best practices and standards were adhered to, the hospital had in place an ethics committee made up of surgeons, lawyers, and other professionals, who certified that all necessary compliance protocols were strictly respected as a quality assurance mechanism to protect the hospital from any legal and ethical challenges in kidney transplantation procedures which would be fully managed and performed by local experts.

Dr. Ampomah emphasized that following the successful procedures, the hospital was working assiduously in consultation with stakeholders to institute a legal regime for organ harvesting and donation to save lives.

Lead transplant experts, Prof. Matthew Kyei, Prof. James. E. Mensah, and Prof. Vincent Boima took turns at the media briefing to share insights and updates on developments in kidney transplantation procedures and progress notes on the patients who were said to be extremely well after the surgeries. They further intimated that the hospital planned to carry out another batch of kidney transplant operations in August 2023 involving three patients.

The Ghana Kidney Association in 2022 had presented a plaque and award to Mr. Kutortse in recognition of his partnership with the Renal Dialysis Unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital with a citation which read, “Through your support, many individuals, families, and communities have been positively impacted, and the Ghana Kidney Association is grateful for your immense contribution to the care of persons with kidney disease in Ghana.”

Earlier in 2022 at the 19th Annual Thanksgiving service of the First Sky Group, Mr. Kutortse had made a passionate appeal to Government to consider making at least two sessions of dialysis treatment cost a part of the medical services covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme.

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