A medical team from Samoa’s National Kidney Foundation (NKF) travelled to Savaii and performed vascular access surgery for two dialysis patients on the Big Island today, saving them the inconvenience of having to travel to Apia.
A vascular access is a hemodialysis patient’s lifeline, because it makes life-saving hemodialysis treatments possible.
For the past 10 years, the surgeries were done by the volunteer ORCHID team from Brisbane, led by chairperson and co-founder, Sala’ilua Kitiona Naseri Cotter – a Samoan and Registered Nurse in Operating Theatre.
Clinical Director of NKF Leituala Dr Ben Matalavea says Samoa has had many patients lined up since Covid-19 border closures.
“The Orchid Team of Samoan specialist nurse “Sal” Naseri Cotter and Dr Mark Hamilton have been blocked due to covid..” said Leituala.
China’s Dr Sang Dahua a Saving Grace for Dialysis Patients
Dr Matalavea says Samoa was starting to accumulate patients since Covid-19, when a saving grace was presented in Dr Sang Dahua, who arrived into Samoa three months ago.
Dr Dahua is part of a Chinese medical team, in Samoa on a rotational arrangement, providing year-round specialists to the National Health Services (NHS).
“I found out that one of them, Dr Sang Dahua, can actually do these operations..,” says Leituala.
Dr Dahua has been clearing the backlog of Upolu patients needing the specialised surgery, but two patients were from Savaii.
“I know how difficult it is for our clients from Savaii to come over to Upolu for this, so we decided to come over to Savaii and use the modern operating facility here at Malietoa Tanumafili Hospital..
“There is also an anesthetist here,” added Leituala.
Also a former Manager and Director of Clinical Services for NHS, Leituala Dr Ben Matalavea says the hospital at Tuasivi has a surgical team, as well as obstetrician and gynaecology teams who are all able to use the modern upgraded facilities “for the benefit and convenience of our people in Savaii”.
“It’s a cost saving for our Health Care system to not have to always transfer these patients over to Apia..” says Leituala.
“So it’s good way forward for health services.. to be accessible and affordable by all..
“As the saying goes, what’s good for Upolu, should also be good for Savaii”, says Dr Matalavea.