Sidra Medicine treated its first international patient at the newly opened Heart Center last month, ushering in an era of reverse medical tourism for the institution.

Sidra Medicine is set to create a regional centre of excellence in paediatric and congenital cardiology, building on the strength of its international team, state-of-the-art equipment and specialty expertise in children’s and adult congenital health.

The 29-day-old patient was flown to Qatar from Kuwait for an emergency operation to correct a heart defect that left her heart unable to properly pump blood throughout her body. Born prematurely, the baby girl weighed just 1.3kg at the time of the operation which took two hours. She will need to return to Sidra Medicine for a series of procedures over the coming months to correct the defect.

Led by Dr Olivier Ghez, division chief of cardiac surgery, and supported by a team of many Sidra Medicine experts, the successful operation opens up possibilities for regional patients in need of Sidra Medicine’s specialist expertise who can now access care closer to home. Patients in Qatar and the region now have access to state-of-the-art equipment and an international team of experts able to perform the most complex cardiological procedures in a familiar cultural setting with a team who speak their language.

“The entire Heart Center team feels incredibly grateful to have been entrusted with the care of our smallest patient to date. We would like to thank the family and the Kuwait Oil Company for entrusting a precious life into our care. We have built an incredibly close and fruitful partnership with colleagues in Kuwait who have been instrumental in enabling Kuwaiti patients to access care at Sidra Medicine. We look forward to working closely together in the future,” said Prof Ziyad M Hijazi, chair of the Department of Paediatrics and director of the Heart Center.

The Sidra Medicine Heart Center offers a wide range of services including cardiac surgery, interventional therapies, electrophysiological therapies, cardiac anesthesia, perfusion, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, cardiac intensive care, non-invasive cardiology, outpatient and inpatient cardiac care, as well as fetal cardiology.

The Heart Center has state-of-the-art equipment and facilities designed to enable clinical teams to achieve the highest standard of care and the best possible experience for patients and their caregivers.