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Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng - Father of open-heart surgery in Ghana

BY: Albert K. Salia
Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng - Father of open-heart surgery in Ghana

Thirty-five years ago in 1985, the first black man, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, performed a heart transplant in Germany.

At the time he was recognised worldwide as the first black person to have performed a heart transplant. In November 1988, he was fortunate again to perform the first heart-lung transplantation in Hannover.

Unlike many graduates at the time, who would have stayed abroad to continue making the headlines, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng returned home in 1989 to establish the National Cardiothoracic Centre and the Ghana Heart Foundation.

He is the founding Director of the National Cardiothoracic Centre and currently the President of the Ghana Heart Foundation.

He joined the University of Ghana Medical School in the year 2000 and was promoted to Associate Professor of Surgery the same year and a Full Professor in 2002.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng  and some nurses in Hannover in 1984

Care for humanity

As the father of open-heart surgery in Ghana, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng has also trained several heart surgeons for Ghana and a number of African countries.

His love for humanity also made him to set up the Frimpong-Boateng Medical Centre at Toase in the Ashanti Region in 2001 to provide medicare for the people in the area.

Together with his two friends, Mr Kwasi Osei Ofori and James Osei Brown, who were the promoters, the Providence Specialist Hospital in Achimota was established to provide specialist care to patients.

Many families have also named their children after Prof. Frimpong-Boateng as a result of his benevolence to them.

Academics

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng graduated from the University of Ghana Medical School in 1975 with MB, ChB degrees. After housemanship at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, he served as a Medical Officer at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, where he was also a demonstrator in Gross Anatomy at the School of Medical Sciences from 1977-1978.

He had his postgraduate studies at the Hannover Medical University, Hannover, Germany and qualified as general, cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon. He subsequently worked as a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon and was one of the pioneers of the heart transplantation programme in Hannover, where he also taught both undergraduate and postgraduate Thorax, Cardio-thoracic and Vascular Surgery.

From left: Dr Thorsten Waitlers, Dr Axel Haverich, Dr Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Prof. Hans-Georg Borst and Dr Jochin Schaeferi

Public Service

He was appointed Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in February 2017.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng is a former Chief Executive Officer of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, past President of the Ghana Red Cross Society and past Chairman of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC).

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng was also the Head of Surgery at the University of Ghana Medical School.

He is a patron of SMIDO (Suame Magazine Industrial Development Organisation) and a patron of the Ghana Old Footballers Association.

Awards

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng has received several local and international awards in recognition of his medical work and service to humanity.

In 1999 he was the Ghana Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Marketing Man of the Year and a recipient of the Millennium Excellence Award. In 2005, the Millennium Excellence Foundation honoured him as the Personality of the Decade.

He is the Secretary of the Centre for Technology-Driven Economic Development (CTED) which received the 2003 special award from the Chartered Institute of Marketing Ghana.

On September 10, 2004, he was a recipient of an honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) Degree from the University of Education, Winneba.

He also received an honorary Doctor of Laws (DLL) degree from the University of Ghana Legon, on March 23, 2016.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng was made honorary member of the German Surgical Society in May 2011. He has been a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2002, and a Fellow of the Ghana Medical association.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng was given a national award: COMPANION OF THE ORDER OF THE VOLTA, in 2006.

He was also the winner of the 2012 edition of the prestigious African Heroes Award, presented by Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, USA, on February 12, 2012.

He has authored two books entitled, DEEP DOWN MY HEART: A history of Cardiothoracic Surgery in Ghana and TAMING A MONSTER: Managing Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, and has contributed chapters to two other books. He has several scientific publications and conference abstracts to his credit.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng is married to Agnes and the couple has five children. A hobby pianist, his other hobbies are farming and engineering.