The Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital has carried out its first knee replacement surgery and that too successfully. The surgery is normally carried out on people with worn-out or injured knee joints and involves removing the damaged joint and replacing it with a man-made artificial joint. Such cases were referred to India till now.
66-year-old Tshering Lhamo from Lunana in Gasa is the first patient to undergo total knee replacement surgery at the JDWNRH.
A team led by Dr. Kuenzang Wangdi, the Head of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, completed the surgery in an hour and a half.
“As you grow old, the bones become soft. We have meniscus and cartilage which get degenerated as we grow old. When this gets degenerated, then the patient becomes severely arthritic. This is the damaged knee and when patients reach this stage, we plan for knee replacement,” said Dr. Kuenzang.
As per hospital officials, the JDWNRH orthopedic clinic sees more than 100 patients in a year with severe arthritis most of which need replacement surgery.
And for each patient, the government spends around Nu 250,000 to send them to India for knee replacement surgery and bring them back.
“We send approximately around 70 patients for referral outside the country. So having the services here will also mean that we will also be bringing the referral cost down. And at the same time build our own institutions and capacity in being able to provide newer services to our people,” said Health Minister Dechen Wangmo. “This benefits the people in terms that they need not go to another country to get these services that they can avail here.”
According to the JDWNRH, the surgery could not be performed in the country earlier mainly due to a lack of trained personnel, as well as a lack of instruments and implants, and a shortage of operating rooms.
Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen
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