In West Africa the first woman to become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon is Dr Ogadinma Mgbajah
With no idea that that there had not been a female in the field before her in West Africa, Ogadinma only wanted a platform to help people who have heart problems, however, she has emerged West Africa’s first female open-heart surgeon .
Practicing at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ogadinma Mgbajah said lecturers and examiners during the course of her training pointed it out to her that she was the first female in that field and that had encouraged her to continue.
In an interview with Punch in May, Ogadinma asserted there were competitions although very subtle from her male colleagues.
“I think the society has a way of conditioning women to think that there are some areas that do not belong to them. You cannot take away culture from us as Nigerians. We think that there is a limit to what a woman is supposed to do. When you speak to medical students about what they want to do, they start by saying, “well, I’m a woman…” The fact that she is a woman clouds her judgement. She is her own biggest challenge. A woman needs to know that all you need to do is identify a problem and ask yourself if you have the capacity to solve this problem. If you don’t, can you build the capacity? If yes, then you go for it.” she said
Ogadinma also explained that her training took seven years and she had all her children within that period.
Speaking about the challenges of open-heart surgery in Nigeria, Ogadinma explained that providing for the care is expensive.
“Basically, the challenge with this specialty is because it is very precise. To provide cardiothoracic care is very costly. I am hoping we will get a lot of government support and health insurance to be able to help people who have this problem.”
“Nigeria has very few cardiothoracic surgeons because after the training, people ask themselves if they would actually be able to practise because most of the patients you see don’t have the finance to support themselves. A lot of patients are not even aware because a lot of cardiac problems are seen as spiritual attack. A lot of people have taken it as a death sentence when they walk into a hospital and they are told their hearts have failed. But there are so much that can be done to give such people a good quality of life.”