Knee patient undergoes brain operation in Tanzania

Tanzanian Health Minister David Mwakyusa has apologised for a recent surgical mix-up that resulted in a knee patient undergoing a complex and life-threatening brain operation.

On November 8, surgeons at the country’s main Muhimbili Hospital opened the skull of Emmanuel Didas to remove a non-existent brain tumour, while Emmanuel Mgaya, who had the tumour, underwent knee surgery.

The error, caused by the confusion of the patients’ first name, sparked condemnation across the impoverished East African nation, known for its poor healthcare infrastructure.

“We are all saddened by the incident and I would like to say sorry to the victims on behalf of the government,” Mwakyusa told Parliament in the country’s administrative capital of Dodoma late on Tuesday.

Didas, who is now recovering from the brain surgery, had come to hospital to seek a knee operation after a motorcycle crash, while Mgaya needed brain surgery to end a persistent migraine.

The two surgeons responsible have been suspended while other staff involved have been ordered to provide written explanations on the incident, officials said.

Earlier this month, the Tanzanian Surgical Association said the country had about 100 professional surgeons for a population of at least a million people.—Sapa-AFP

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