Dr Rediet Shimeles – #BeBoldForChange

When you were growing up what did you want to be?

When I was growing up I wanted to be doctor. Just like any child, I wanted to be doctor but didn’t know the reason, as time went by, my reasons got clearer and clearer.

What motivated you to become an anaesthesiologist?

I never planned or wanted to be an anesthesiologist . It just never crossed my mind . In Ethiopia , the field of anesthesiology is not well known. I never knew anesthesiology could have so much impact on safety of patients. As a medical student there was no clinical attachment at the Department of Anesthesiology. Gladly, that was in the past. I’m happy to say, I was part of that change.

Now I know, anesthesiology is a field where every day is all about safe surgery, critical care and pain management. Anesthesiology in Ethiopia, can offer an opportunity of a big change, even with small positive, energetic and goal directed actions. Thus, I am glad , I am an Anesthesiologist. It is the best place to be, to bring about a bigger change for the safety and comfort of patients.

What do you do during a typical day at the hospital?

During a typical day in my hospital, Black Lion, early in the morning we start our morning session where preoperative evaluation of each patient about to be operated is presented, discussed and concerns addressed. I supervise five to ten operation tables per day.

Anesthesia residents present seminars in the operation theater thus I moderate that session. Depending on the condition, going out to talk to the attendants of the patients is routine. Going to the Ministry of Health, which is close to my hospital is something I sometimes do too. When assigned to the intensive care unit, early morning teaching session as well as morning and afternoon daily rounds are done.

What is the most memorable incident (a patient, or a challenge) that happened to you at the hospital this week?

This week I had a one year and three month old male child with Hepatoblastoma (cancer of the liver) being operated for Hepatectomy. He weighed 6 kg which is extremely low for his age. Finding the right sized equipment to insure safe anesthesia was a challenge for this lengthy and risky procedure on this severely malnourished child.

Central venous catheter was inserted. The right size functional non-invasive blood pressure cuff could not be found. It was mandatory to proceed with the pulse oximeter, central venous catheter and ECG. We had to use our best clinical judgement with peripheral pulse to estimate the blood pressure of this patient. The patient bled more than three quarters of his blood volume. However he was well resuscitated and the surgery was successful after seven hours. This child was transferred to our pediatric intensive care unit fully awake and hopefully with minimal pain.

The theme for IWD’s this year is ‘Be Bold For Change’, how have you been bold for safer surgery/anaesthesia?

I believe I have been bold for safe surgery and anesthesia, mainly because I believe every patient deserves safety. I have been bold in promoting safe anesthesia thus, safe surgery – starting from my co- workers in my hospital to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. Our last logo for the Ethiopian Society of Anesthesiologists annual conference was Safe Anesthesia for Safe Surgery. Now a recognition has come that safe anesthesia is the bottleneck for safe surgery. I am always bold to promote safe anesthesia.

Why is surgery and anaesthesia important for women’s health?

Preventing and minimizing maternal and child mortality as well as morbidity is partly a clear reflection of safe surgery and anesthesia. In Ethiopia lack of access to safe surgery is one of the main contributing factors to maternal mortality, because most obstetric complications as well as gynecologic problems are solved by surgery. Assuring safety of surgery and anesthesia, assures safety of women.