An exceptional 26-year-old woman named Penelope Adinku has made history as the first black female surgeon to repair a human heart successfully.
Penelope Adinku who is a cardiothoracic surgeon from Ghana made history after she successfully repaired a 6-year-old girl’s heart. The heart surgery was her first-ever operation since she became a practicing surgeon.
Penelope also set a record as the first Black female surgeon in Ghana to accomplish the feat. She bagged her bachelors degree in Medicine at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
After graduation, she proceeded to have a three-year general surgery membership program with the West African College of Surgeons (WACS). Penelope furthered on to earn a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of Ghana.
Upon earning her doctorate, Penelope completed her externship and began her position at the National Cardiothoracic Centre at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana making her the first female cardiothoracic surgeon.
Dr. Penelope said she developed a passion for surgery during her final year in medical school when she observed how surgeons cared for individuals with diverse medical conditions, particularly children with congenital heart diseases, igniting her desire to assist them.
”I knew I wanted to be a surgeon in my final year of medical school. As I did my rotation in the Department of Surgery, I saw people come with varying conditions which were treated by surgeons,” Dr Penelope said.
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”During my housemanship rotation in pediatrics, I also came across children with congenital heart disease, and I had the desire to help them. This drew me more to cardiothoracic surgery,” she added.
Dr. Penelope undertook the heart operation under the supervision of the head of the National Cardiothoracic Center, Dr. Lawrence Agyemang Serebour, since it was her first time, and she solved the longtime heart issue of the young girl.
”She had her first surgery which improved her condition and she came for the second surgery which we just completed, where we opened up an obstruction in her heart to make sure blood flows into her lungs,” she said.
She said she believes the reason why the country is just having its first female Cardiothoracic Surgeon is because of the hectic nature of the specialized field, which makes it difficult for women to combine it with traditional family duties.
Dr Penelope said her biggest accomplishment as a surgeon would be to create and continue to create awareness of the gap in the specialty for females which needs to be filled. She added that she looks forward to a time when the female-to-male ratio in this specialty is at least one-to-one.