Super Eagles’ former captain, Kanu Nwankwo has revealed that his foundation would soon build a cardiovascular hospital in Nigeria to offer adequate medical attention and treatment to heart patients.
The former Arsenal star, who is the founder of Kanu Heart Foundation, made the disclosure when he led officials of the Foundation to celebrate Christmas with heart patients at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri, yesterday.
He also disclosed that the foundation has saved 565 indigent children following successful open heart surgeries in the last 20 years, adding that about 200 children with cardiovascular ailments were currently on the waiting list of the foundation for surgeries in order to save their lives.
“The Kanu Heart Foundation was established in 2000 and we have done 565 open heart surgeries since the foundation came on board. These are mainly the less privileged children.
“What this means is that Kanu Heart Foundation has saved the lives of 565 less privileged children. And we have 200 patients on the waiting list.
“Since three years, we have been going to hospitals to celebrate Christmas with patients across the country. We decided to do this year’s own in the South East with Abia and Imo the main targets.
“We want to let the patients know that it is not only the healthy that celebrate Christmas. Our major target is to give them hope while promising them what we can do for them in the future by helping them out from their current situation,” he said.
Kanu lamented that heart problems were on the increase in the country because most sufferers know little or nothing about the symptoms, as well as lack of affordable health care services in the country.
“From our findings, the case of heart diseases has been on the rising stage. Unfortunately, most people don’t even know the symptoms of heart problems. Whenever they have such cases, they go for malaria and typhoid treatment. That’s what is fuelling heart problems and sudden deaths.
“But now, I think the awareness is coming slowly and the number of patients is increasing. That’s why we have about 200 persons on the waiting list. As I’m talking to you, we get about 40 calls talking about heart problems”, he said.
On the cost implication of the foundation’s humanitarian activities, the ex-Eagles captain said, “If we look at the cost we have to bear, I think it may be difficult for us to achieve what we have achieved so far. The fare for taking a patient out of the country for surgery is about $15,000. This is not including accommodation, food and the cost of the surgery itself, as well as the drugs that will go with it.
“That’s why we’re working hard to build a hospital here in Nigeria. With a heart hospital here, more patients will be attended to. And the cost of taking care of one case in Europe will take care of four persons here”.
He continued, “The foundation has no foreign partners. However, we have a hospital in India and one in Sudan that receive some patients and cut operational cost for us.
“In Nigerian hospitals, we have to pay for everything. Some of them even send us some patients to take of.”