Heart and Vascular Center Performs New Surgery for Young Nigerian Woman.

We all know that parents will go great distances to see their child healthy and happy. In the case of Christiana and Ezekiel Best of Nigeria, great distances were actually more than 6,000 miles. The Bests came to the stateline area to find a physician who could help save the life of their 25 year-old daughter, Sekyen.

Dr. Leo Egbujiobi, Cardiologist and Dr. John Hokanson, Pediatric Cardiologist, both with Beloit Health System, saw an opportunity to help this young woman thrive. According to her parents, Sekyen had been very ill throughout her young life due to her heart condition. Sekyen was diagnosed at the age of three with PDA, a congenital disorder where an artery fails to close after birth. Nigerian doctors were unable to correct the condition due to limited technology in that area of cardiology.

“PDA (Patent ductus arteriosus) can cause many symptoms including failure to thrive,” explains Dr. Egbujiobi. “In the first year of life, symptoms can include labored breathing and poor weight gain. With age, the PDA may lead to congestive heart failure or infection if left uncorrected.”

On January 16, Dr. Egbujiobi and Dr. Hokanson performed the first PDA closure surgery to take place at Beloit Health System. Both doctors had performed this type of surgery many times in Madison and Milwaukee. Just a few hours after surgery, Sekyen was resting peacefully and smiling for her doctors, her parents and the camera. She was even released the same day and is now following up with Dr. Egbujiobi. Her heart had been repaired successfully and she had a new outlook on life.

“This is the type of innovation and technology that follows our mission at Beloit Health System to offer expanded heart and vascular services here,” continued Dr. Egbujiobi. “We are very happy to see Sekyen doing so well. Her current future is very bright now that the PDA is corrected.”

How did the Bests get connected to our doctors? Both Ezekiel and Christiana attended the University of Wisconsin in the 1980’s receiving their PhD’s in Sociology and Journalism respectively. During their years in Madison, they became familiar with some of the UW physicians. When they were not able to obtain the level of technology in Nigeria needed to help their daughter, they started contacting U.S. hopefuls.

The family came from Nigeria to Madison before Christmas and worked with colleagues to determine any possibility for the heart surgery Sekyen desperately needed. Dr. Breed, a retired surgeon at UW, and Dr. Hokanson made the connection to Dr. Egbujiobi and the arrangements were made to schedule the surgery. “If you could go into my heart right now, you could see the happiness overflowing,” reflects Ezekiel. “Our prayers have been answered. My wife and I have endless appreciation for the doctors and the people of Beloit Health System who were able to help my daughter.”

Dr. Leo Egbujiobi (left) and Dr. John Hokanson (right) share the post-surgery good news with patient Sekyen Best and her father, mother, and sister. The family had traveled from Nigeria for the expertise needed to correct a congenital condition which caused a hole in the 25 year-old’s heart.


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