Standing from left: Professor Peter Amollo Odhiambo, Gerald Kabogota and Mr. Thadeus Shigela. Seated is Professor Charles Nyamiti scholar, author, musician and Professor of Theology at the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi.
By: Professor Peter Amollo Odhiambo
The first open heart surgery in Kenya was done in 1973. Even when the open heart surgery programme as we know it today, in1975, a good number of heart patients still went abroad for open heart operations.
In the bruising battle between advocates of overseas dependence and local development, at the close of the nineteen seventies and early eighties, we won!
We rooted for training locally to guarantee future development. We also focused on work in the entire Heart Unit at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and delivery of results of open heart surgery theatre. We also formed and registered “Kenya Heart Patients Association” for counseling and follow up, including those operated abroad and did not have any easy access to their overseas doctors! The patients themselves ran the Association. I was their fist Patron. It collapsed after I handed over to the next Patron. The patients/ex-patients themselves had increased to fairly large numbers, with challenges in management!
Indeed it so happened that soon received patients from the entire East African region, including Ethiopia, Zambia, Sudan and Zaire (now DRC).
Then something snapped – Lukewarm support from local institutions, Ministries included, and aggressive marketing from abroad, notably India! Comparative costs are (shamefully) the proffered excuses!
Here are two Tanzanians from Tabora, whom I operated on in Nairobi, Kenya, (1989 and 1995, respectively), and only learnt later that they were close relatives! They paid me a courtesy call on 6th January, 2017, when the picture was taken.
Gerald Kabogota (standing centre) is the son of Mr. Thadeus Shigela (standing right), who is the first nephew of the Professor Charles Nyamiti (seated) scholar, author, musician and Professor of Theology at the Catholic University of East Africa in Nairobi, where he has been for decades.
Professor Father Charles Nyamiti (seated, centre), was on his death-bed at the Nairobi Aga Khan Hospital, after sustaining a traumatic perforation of his oesophsgus in 1989 at the prime age of 59 years. Now, at 85 years of age, he is about to complete the 5th Volume of his series of books on Christianity from the African perspective.
Gerald Kabogota, his grand-nephew, now 29 years of age and a teacher in Mwanza, was sponsored by Missionaries in Tabora with a heart problem when he was eight (8) years old. When he was first brought to us, our systems were down and he went back. He returned to us soon after. His operation was a success. At that time, I was the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and had only the late Mr. Hasmukh Kamdar to assist me! Local brain drain had robbed us of two trained colleagues (my fist batch of trainees); the others were still overseas.
Now 29 years old, Gerald teaches at Sumve Secondary School, Maniare, Mwanza, Tanzania.