The only functional cardiovascular laboratory in the entire South-South and the South-East geopolitical zones is located in the Bayelsa Specialist Hospital (BSH), Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.
Making the disclosure at BHS on Monday, a prominent Interventional Cardiologist, Dr. Dafe Emmanuel, said since the inauguration of the hospital, which was built by the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, the lab has been providing services to patients from the 11 states that make up the zone.
Dafe, who heads the cardiovascular unit of the hospital, said patients from other parts of the country also patronise the medical facility for various cardiovascular procedures.
He said a similar laboratory in the University Teaching Hospital Enugu has not been functioning in the last three years, same as the one established in Akwa Ibom State by former Governor Godswill Akpabio.
He said: "In the Bayelsa Specialist Hospital, we have a functional cardiovascular laboratory that serves the whole of South-South and the South East. This is the only functioning card lab in these 11 states.
"Other card labs working in Nigeria are three in Lagos and one in Abuja. The one in Abuja serves the whole of the north and its is privately driven. In Enugu, the Federal Government tried to establish one but it never worked.
"There is one in Akwa Ibom established by the former Governor, it has been shut down for the past three years. It is not working. There is one coming up in Owerri, it is privately driven. So, these are the only functioning labs. Only about five functional card labs in Nigeria. This is how terrible it is. People die every day."
Dafe said the efficiency and proper management of the laboratory in BHS since its establishment had led to the influx of many patients from different parts of the country to the hospital.
He said over 100 patients from outside the state patronized the hospital for cardiovascular procedures in the past one year, adding that they came from Abuja, Katsina, Zaria, Calabar, Benin, Owerri, Enugu, Port Harcourt among others.
"The patient I am handling now is from Oghara Teaching Hospital. As I am talking to you another patient is on his way from Benin. The reason we get these patients is that they heard of the work we are doing.
"So, the work is spreading. When they come they stay with us here in hotels with their relatives. We have more than 100 for the past one year that came from outside to get cardiovascular help here."
He said the laboratory was equipped to manage all cardiovascular cases such as coronary setting, right and left heart cartrisation, geoplasting and peripheral balloons among others.
The doctor said: "We have treated many patients who were due for above-knee amputation. The orthopedic doctors said they would chop off their legs. Nobody wants their legs chopped off. No matter how beautiful the artificial legs look like, they cannot be exactly like the natural leg.
"A number of them that came here, we were able to convert them. Many of them did not have the amputation anymore. Some of them we converted from above knee to below knee amputation because the gangrene was extensive and we couldn't salvage the muscles and the tissues. We also do pace maker insertions here.
"We do minor heart surgery. You don't open up the heart. You use needle to get into the vessel. Then pass your wires and get the work done and while doing that the patient is awake and you are talking with the patient. Everything is done and the same or next day, the patient will go."
Also speaking, the Community Chief Executive Officer (CCEO) of BSH, Cynthia Oye, said though the state government owned the hospital, it was being managed by a private organisation, Oyesis Global Network.
She said the hospital was also equipped to undertake other critical health procedures than cardiovascular cases, adding that BHS was effectively handling stroke and kidney cases through state of the art machine.
Oye noted that the hospital was currently running free cleft lip ad cleft palate surgeries in partnership with an American-based organisation.
She said: "We have free surgeries and it is still ongoing. We started the surgeries June last year and we have had 22 successfully done so far."
She added that the hospital's bills were very affordable and competitive, especially with the help of the Bayelsa Insurance Scheme floated in the state by Governor Dickson.
She said: "The hospital is in Government House. It looks nice and clean so people just assume it is expensive. Most people still don't know that it is open to the general public. They assume it is for dignitaries and high-profile persons.
"We are very affordable with competitive rates. And one thing I know we do here is attaching importance on patient's health. If somebody comes as emergency, we don't talk money first we try to stabilize the person first."