At the Arab Hope Makers awards ceremony in the United Arab Emirates last Thursday donors raced to outbid each other in support of building the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre. After more than 44 million dirhams were raised Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE, matched the amount, doubling the donations to more than 88 million dirhams (LE360 million).
The Arab Hope Makers initiative honours people and institutions that pursue humanitarian goals. According to the initiative’s website Arab Hope Makers must have a project, programme, campaign or initiative that is creative and influential and contributes to improving the lives of others in a non-profit and voluntary capacity.
The Global Heart Centre, scheduled to open in summer 2022, will conduct 12,000 heart surgeries annually of which 70 per cent will be on children. Its clinics will receive over 80,000 patients annually and train 1,000 cardiologists and cardiac surgeons through the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Foundation.
According to the foundation’s website 10 million children are born each year with a congenital heart defect of which 75 per cent, mostly in developing countries, will not receive the care they need to thrive into adulthood. That is something the foundation is out to change, through its existing Aswan Heart Centre as well as the new Global Heart Centre to be constructed in 6 October city.
According to Magdi Issac, acting CEO of Magdi Yacoub Foundation, the new hospital, on a 35-feddan site, will comprise five floors housing five operating theaters, five rooms for cardiac catheterisation procedures and 405 beds for patients. The centre is expected to provide free-of-charge cardiovascular care to patients across the Arab world.
Issac told Al-Ahram Weekly that the target of 12,000 surgeries per year is double the number performed at the Aswan Heart Centre.
“I want to teach everything I know to as many doctors as possible,” Yacoub said in a televised interview.
Egyptian-British cardiologist Yacoub, 84, is the founder and director of research at the Harefield Heart Science Centre and was professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London from 1986 until 2006. Yacoub is also the founding editor of the journal Disease Models & Mechanisms.
Yacoub delivered the Bradshaw Lecture at the Royal College of Physicians in 1988. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1992, awarded the Order of the Nile for Science and Humanity in 2011, the Order of Merit in 2014, the Royal College of Surgeons’ Lister Medal in 2015 and received the Khalaf Ahmed Al-Habtoor Achievement Award (KAHAA) in 2019.
Of the 1,000 open heart surgeries performed annually at the Aswan Heart Centre (AHC), 60 per cent of the patients are children. “Most of the cases are complex operations that are not performed anywhere except at the AHC,” says Issac. The centre also performs 1,050 cardiac catheterisations annually. It has 92 beds and four operating theatres.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 27 February, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly