When Shawnee Mission Medical Center (SMMC) associate and sonographer Innocent Ndubuisi visited his hometown of Owerri, Imo-State, Nigeria, he was disheartened to learn about the outdated ultrasound equipment being used by local hospitals.

Eager to help improve health care in the region, Ndubuisi began a personal mission to identify and secure a newer ultrasound machine that could be donated to St. David’s Hospital, a health care facility in Owerri.

SMMC agreed to help Ndubuisi not only fulfill his mission, but exceed his goal. The hospital donated two ultrasound units, covered costs to ship the machines to Nigeria and also sponsored Ndubuisi’s trip to Nigeria in order to train physicians how to properly use the equipment.

The donated ultrasound machines will directly benefit communities within a 300-kilometer radius of Owerri. One of the units is a hybrid unit, which allows physicians to perform both general and vascular ultrasounds as well as echocardiograms.

“It is the only unit of its kind in this part of Eastern Nigeria,” said Ndubuisi. “This is huge. Health care professionals can now locally perform certain tests which, in the past, people had to travel several hundred kilometers to receive.”

During Ndubuisi’s time in Nigeria, he worked with physicians to offer free cardiovascular testing to a small portion of the population. This type of testing is imperative in order to identify and diagnose cardiovascular disease.

“While testing patients, I was able to make life saving diagnoses of some cardiovascular conditions that would not have been identified without these ultrasound machines,” said Ndubuisi. “It also feels good to know that when physicians perform obstetric ultrasounds they can now obtain more accurate fetal biometry measurements with the training provided.”

With plans to return to Nigeria to conduct more training and testing for a larger population, Ndubuisi hopes to secure additional medical equipment needed for this region.

“Shawnee Mission Medical Center has set the pace,” said Ndubuisi. “My hope is that other health care organizations are willing to assist in my quest to bring proper diagnostic tools to people in this part of the world.”

Health care professionals from Owerri share Ndubuisi’s excitement about the improved health care capabilities the equipment has already provided and will continue to offer to their community.

“These machines have strengthened our hands in the provision of free and quality medical treatment to the elderly and destitute,” said St. David’s Hospital medical director Davidson O.N. Anyanwu. “We would like to thank Shawnee Mission Medical Center for this immense contribution toward saving lives in our environment. You are truly much more than medicine.”


Author Jackie Woods is a writer for Shawnee Mission Medical Center.