GPHC conducts first weight loss surgery; patient loses 40 lbs in six weeks

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The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) last month conducted the first-ever laparoscopic bariatric surgery in Guyana and the 32-year-old patient is said to be recovering well, having already lost 40 pounds in six weeks.

Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery is a form of weight-loss surgery offered to persons who are obese and cannot lose weight.

Obese persons are those persons with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. This form of surgery is performed using a small camera or laparoscope. There is no long cut (no long incision) that is made to enter the stomach.

Laparoscopic bariatric surgery is a minimally invasive surgical technique that involves removing or limiting a section of the stomach and rearranging it.

Persons who have had laparoscopic bariatric surgery eat a lower amount of food, which helps weight-loss. The surgery restricts the ability to eat large amounts of food.

The lead surgeon in this record-setting and milestone achievement was Dr. Hemraj Ramcharran, an advanced laparoscopic surgeon. Dr. Ramcharran is one of several surgeons who are promoting Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) at the GPHC and in Guyana.

The surgery was performed at the GPHC on February 17, 2022 and the patient, Teikah Singh, came to the hospital obese. Having determined that the patient did not benefit from traditional, non-surgical weight-loss methods, it was recommended that Singh was a good candidate for bariatric surgery.

“The patient has recovered well and is losing weight, as predicted by the medical team. After six weeks, the patient has already benefited from a weight-loss of forty pounds. The expected outcome for this patient is that he will weigh only half of his pre-surgery weight in six-months and only one-third of his pre-surgery weight in one year,” a press release from the Ministry of Health noted.

But it was noted that this is dependent on the patient following medical advice and adhering to certain behavioral changes.

“The Ministry of Health, the Board, management and staff at the GPHC wish [the patient] well and assures him that we will provide all support he needs to ensure that this life-saving procedure leads to a healthier and more productive life.”

It should be noted that while this is the first laparoscopic bariatric surgery done in Guyana, open bariatric surgery has been done previously and it was this same team that was responsible late last year for another “first.”

Late in 2021, the same surgical team completed the first-ever laparoscopic adrenalectomy surgery and three patients benefitted.

Teikah Singh is the first patient to undergo the first-ever laparoscopic bariatric surgery at the GPHC. He is pictured here with his ex-wife

“While grateful to Dr. Ramcharran for his leadership in completing Guyana’s first laparoscopic bariatric surgery, the Minister of Health and the Board recognize that a surgery like this requires a team. The Minister and the Board extends congratulations to the whole team at the GPHC. We look forward for further achievements in laparoscopic bariatric surgeries at GPHC and in Guyana,” the press release noted.

MORE THAN HALF OF GUYANA’S POPULATION OBESE

It was noted that obesity is a major problem in Guyana, with more than half of the population either overweight or obese, the Ministry of Health noted.

Obesity is often accompanied with serious co-morbidities, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, etc. Obesity is a global health problem. More than 650M people around the world are obese and more than more than 42M children under 5 are also obese.

While nutrition and lifestyle changes are often frontline treatment options, surgical interventions have become an important option when non-surgical options fail. In the developed countries, bariatric surgical interventions have already been established as popular options for persons who are obese.

However, bariatric surgical intervention to treat obesity is not yet routine in developing countries, with only a handful of developing countries offering this option. In this regard, the health sector of Guyana has made a tremendous step forward.

The weight loss program at the GPHC is now preparing itself to add laparoscopic bariatric surgery as a routine service to help people who might need surgical intervention as their only option for treating obesity.

Minister Frank Anthony has promised that while every effort is being made to ensure high-quality basic service is provided to every citizen, he is also mindful that certain high-level, tertiary healthcare interventions become available for the citizens of Guyana.

Several innovations have already become a part of the health sector.

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