CTMH and Dr. James Akinwunmi are pleased to announce the opening of the Cayman Islands first surgical neurology clinic.  The Clinic is set up to see both private and government funded patients, as approved and referred by their medical insurance providers.  Dr. Akinwunmi  MBBS, FRCS(Ed) FRCS (SN) was born in England and trained in Cambridge, Birmingham and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London.  He has over 20 years of experience and has family ties to the island that has drawn him to the warm Caribbean.

Already Saving Lives

Having a visiting Neurosurgeon to the islands is incredibly beneficial when it comes to saving lives, just ask Maria Antunez. Maria is from Honduras– but has been living and working in Grand Cayman for 12 years. She awoke on the morning of 21st of July with a thumping headache and the room spinning viciously. “I was terribly sick and I had a massive pain in the side of my head. I asked my brother to hold me… I couldn’t sit up and I slumped down in his arms; I knew I was dying.” Fortuitously Maria’s brother had arrived 3 days earlier and was able to aid Maria in getting to the hospital. “I was so scared,” Maria said, “I could barely stand up because of the spinning and vomiting.” Bracing herself against the walls Maria made her way to the entrance of the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA). An orderly saw very quickly how much trouble she was in and lead her right into the Emergency area of HSA.

Enter Dr. Akinwunmi.

The HSA called upon neurosurgeon, Dr. James Akinwunmi.  “They saw me so fast” said Maria. “He used a small light to look in my eyes and asked me when my symptoms had started. From the MRI and CT scans performed, Dr. Akinwunmi diagnosed Maria with Acute Hydrocephalus of the brain caused by cerebellar brain swelling. “They told me that I needed to go into surgery immediately,” she said.   Using the Operating Theatre at CTMH, Dr. Akinwunmi along with Dr. Sidney Ebanks carried out the life-saving surgery. Maria was then transferred back to the critical care unit at the HSA.

“Maria’s case is prevalent to all in Cayman. Having the life-saving Neurosurgery here means that people do not have to be transferred by Air Ambulance out to Miami or Jamaica. In Maria’s case she would have had to get medivac out at great expense –being foreign national poses problems with entry visas – even in emergencies. The lives and monetary savings of not having to be evacuated will make everyone in theCayman Islands breathe a sigh of relief.” stated Dr. Greg Hoeksema, HSA Medical Director. Through the collaboration of CTMH and HSA Maria was able to be given the life-saving treatment she needed, as the facilities catered for both the surgeon and the patient.

A True Success Story

Maria was saved in a fantastic joint effort that has lead to such a great success story.  Lying comfortably in her hospital bed the HSA Surgical ward two days later, and well on the mend to recovery, Maria is truly thanking God with tears in her eyes. “I have been given a second chance to see my four beautiful children again; I am really going to make the most of my second chance. I can’t stop praying.”

Maria will be closely monitored in her recovery by resident Physicians and Physiotherapists. They will have direct contact with Dr. Akinwunmi should anything arise while he is practicing inEngland, before his monthly week-long visit to Cayman.

A Commitment to the Cayman Islands

Dr. Akinwunmi states, “Finally I am in a position to really help the people residing here, offering a service that is currently not available except for overseas.”

“While Dr. Akinwunmi feels privileged to have the opportunity – it’s really theCayman Islands that is extraordinarily lucky to have this type of facility” Explained Dr. Steve Tomlinson.   Dr. Akinwunmi started building the idea and the practice several years ago in February 2007 and is now able to open his doors to the public. He has invested more than US$250,000 of his own funding for surgical equipment here in Cayman enabling him to perform surgical tasks to the best of his ability.  His personal interest and investment has enabled the private hospital to get the surgery element up and running. “I work using an operating microscope and microscopic equipment – making sure I do the least invasive type of surgery that leaves minimal tissue trauma to the patient. It is important that we (surgeons) achieve our treatment objectives via minimally invasive surgical techniques, if possible, to allow the patient to have the best chance of early recovery, which in turn enables them to return home and back to their normal lives.” Dr. Akinwunmi believes that the current collaboration between himself, CTMH, the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority and all the medical practitioners in the Cayman Islands, is important in making the neurosurgical clinic a true success, “This way the Cayman Islands community gets the best benefits going forward.”

In addition to his immediate plans, Dr. James Akinwunmi hopes that this service will grow and develop over time. Involving and supporting the present medical infrastructure where needed is part of the overall plan, however, Dr. Akinwunmi has already found many of the nursing staff to be highly skilled.  “Their extensive training and experience has certainly made starting and running the clinic a lot easier.” He explains.  He also hopes that the medical school on Grand Cayman will train new doctors who will eventually take over the service in the future.  His commitment and aspirations for the future will allow for new equipment, growth and investment within the surgical neurology clinic.

Surgical Neurologists study the brain and the spine

Dr. Akinwunmi’s interest in Neurosurgery started whilst he was studying to be a doctor. “I was intrigued by the anatomy of the brain and spine,” he said.  He has a general neurosurgical practice with a special interest in spinal pain management, brain and spinal tumours and degenerative spinal diseases as well as microscopic spinal surgery in England.

It was microscopic spinal back surgery that was to aid yet another patient here in theCayman Islands. Harriet Seymour came into CTMH with extreme pain in her leg. On a scale of 0-to-10 she classified her pain as a 10. After a thorough exam, he diagnosed her with a ruptured disc in her spine.  Dr. Akinwunmi, with the assistance of Cayman’s own Dr. Sidney Ebanks, was able to perform microscopic surgery.  This minimally invasive surgery allowed them to remove part of the ruptured disc on Harriet’s spine.  Remarkably she was back home the following day, with her pain threshold being a 0 on the scale of 0-to-10. The time and energy saved for the patient undergoing this kind of procedure is only achievable if performed locally. Until a few months ago, Harriet too would have had to be transferred toMiamifor surgery, with greater cost and time implications. As it stands today Harriet was able to be diagnosed and treated on the island and was discharged home the following day to the comfort of her own home and family – pain-free.