Five years ago, Indonesian Goenawan Endro started experiencing tightness at his chest area and chest pain. Visits to the doctor in his hometown Surabaya revealed that he had a heart problem. He was prescribed medication, told to stop smoking and was recommended to go for a balloon angioplasty. Mr Goenawan took all but the advice to go for the angioplasty as he felt that his medication was enough for him. He was also apprehensive of the complications that may arise from the procedure. He had since changed doctors three times.

In end 2005, Mr Goenawan’s symptoms took a turn for the worse and he suffered a heart attack. The doctor Mr Goenawan saw after his heart attack suggested that he should go through the angioplasty for his own good. This time round, Mr Goenawan complied. "Dr Irwan is very patient, he is unlike my previous doctors who only instructed me to go for the angioplasty without being able to tell me exactly why I needed to do it. This doctor explained my condition in detail and the need to go for the procedure. After 2 to 3 visits, I was finally convinced to go for the procedure," said Mr Goenawan.

The angioplasty revealed that Mr Goenawan had very serious blockages in his arteries – total blockage on his left side and 20 to 30% on his right. Given the results, Dr Irwan advised him to go for a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG). Dr Irwan provided him with the choice of undergoing treatment locally, in Indonesia or in Singapore. He was informed that the National Heart Centre of Singapore (NHC) offered a comprehensive and affordable package that suited his needs. Mr Goenawan finally decided on Singapore after strong recommendations from friends and relatives.

Arrangements were made with a Global Patient Services Officer at the National Heart Centre and the family took a flight over to Singapore. At the National Heart Centre, the cardiothoracic surgeons performed a successful CABG on Mr Goenawan. Post-operation, he was warded for observation for 6 days.

Visibly happy with the success of his operation and positive experience at the National Heart Centre, Mr Goenawan gave two thumbs-up to the staff of the National Heart Centre, "The service quality is very good, we felt welcomed and I was well taken care of. The nurses, especially those in the intensive care unit, were professional and kind. My doctor-in-charge, Dr Sin, was very informative and professional as well. I also did not have much problems communicating with him because he could speak Bahasa Indonesia."

The family described this trip to Singapore as an eye-opener and marveled at the safety and detailed system of the medical services in Singapore.

The National Heart Centre is the national referral centre for cardiovascular disease in Singapore. It provides comprehensive preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitative cardiac services to local and overseas patients. The Centre also specialises in managing patients who are at a higher risk for future cardiovascular disease due to the presence of multiple cardiac risk factors or a history of known cardiovascular disease.

The National Heart Centre’s Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery crossed the 18,000 mark in its number of open heart surgeries since August 2006.

It is the only approved centre in Singapore for heart and lung transplantations.  The National Heart Centre is a member of Singapore Health Services.

Dr Kenny Sin is a Senior Cardiothoracic Surgeon at the National Heart Centre of Singapore. Dr Sin subspecialises in Cardiac Surgery for children and adults as well as Thoracic and Vascular Surgery.

What Is Coronary Artery Bypass Graft?
Coronary artery bypass graft surgery restores normal blood flow to the heart. Also known as CABG, the surgery builds a detour around one or more blocked coronary arteries using a blood vessel graft from a healthy vein or artery. The graft goes around the clogged artery to create new pathways allowing oxygen-rich blood to flow to the heart.

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