Tenwek Cardiothoracic Center Kenya

The Need

Diseases of the heart, lungs, and esophagus have largely been left untreated in much of sub-Saharan Africa, often due to the perceived inordinate expense required to surgically care for these patients, and the perceived futility in carrying out expensive procedures on a relatively small number of patients.  However, recent global literature has shown clearly that chronic cardiothoracic conditions are a source of massive loss of life and productivity on an epidemic scale in sub-Saharan Africa.  Every day, thousands of young people with potentially curable or preventable conditions go untreated in this region due to lack of resources.

The Vision

Tenwek Hospital is uniquely positioned to begin a center of excellence in cardiothoracic care and to train African health care workers both in the medical/surgical management of these patients and in the broader vision of sharing the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ to those in need. 

Tenwek Hospital is currently the major referral center for patients with esophageal cancer in the entire region.  We perform more endoscopic and surgical procedures for these patients than any other facility.  Furthermore, Tenwek Hospital is currently performing more open-heart surgical procedures than any unit in the region.  We are caring primarily for patients with congenital heart disease and with rheumatic heart disease, which has largely been eradicated in most Western and higher income countries but causes the early death (average age of death is 26 years) to a massive number of people in sub-Saharan Africa, most of whom have no options for curative treatment. Children and infants there with congenital heart disease currently are selectively treated with transfer to US and other Western centers for therapy at a massive individual cost per patient. We can provide the same care at Tenwek Hospital for these patients at a fraction of the cost, and we can provide training for the Christian African health care providers to continue to provide this care on a regional basis for the future.

The Plan

Building upon our foundation of training doctors and nurses at Tenwek Hospital for many decades, we began our formal training program in cardiothoracic surgery in 2018.  We are moving forward with plans to begin construction of the new Tenwek Cardiothoracic Center before the end of 2018.  Please consider joining us in physically and spiritually healing the hearts of Africa.

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Written by: Russ E. White, MD, MPH, FACS, FCS (ECSA)