Friends and patients of Dr Albert Ko, an Interventional Cardiologist based at Ascot Hospital in Greenlane, Auckland were surprised when he announced his retirement from medical practice effective September 1, 2018.
In an email addressed to Indian Newslink, Dr Ko said that he was contemplating retirement for a while and that he wished to spend more time with his family and his two sons in Australia.
“I have retired on my 60th Birthday. I would like to continue visiting Fiji and to do more teaching. I would leave the frontline work in the capable hands of my colleagues,” he said.
Over the past several years, he has conducted angioplasty procedures on hundreds of poor Fijians and brought back normalcy in their lives. During one of his visits last year, he completed 21 angioplasty procedures in as many patients, while 40 persons underwent angiogram tests.
“I am happy that Fiji is fast becoming self-sufficient in skills; we have doctors and nurses who can perform angiogram and angioplasty procedures on patients without our assistance. They are well trained, committed and resolved to raise the standard of medical practice and service in Fiji,” he said, speaking to Indian Newslink.
Dr Ko was in an early batch of experts to visit as a part of a delegation led by Dr Nand. But it was in 2011 that he conducted the first angiogram and angioplasty.
“I was shown a patient who was in a terrible condition. I conducted an angioplasty procedure and two hours later, he was walking on the corridors of the Hospital. It was a turning point for him in his life and for me in my engagement with Fiji,” he said.
Soon thereafter, Dr Ko saved the life of a taxi driver. After that, he has been visiting Fiji every year, not only to treat patients but also to lobby and arrange equipment required to conduct angiogram and angioplasty.
“Like the proverbial fish and fishing, it was important that we taught the people of Fiji to handle their patients with skill and efficiency. I am happy that we have been able to achieve a lot in these seven years,” he said.
But Dr Ko is conscious of the need to provide more funds, better equipment, train doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners and lift the overall quality of service.
He said that five major factors influence heart-related diseases. They include family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetics and smoking.
“Fiji Indians carry a higher risk of coronary problems, with nine out of 10 requiring intervention. Diabetes strikes them and hence they should exercise caution. We specialists do not see any patient directly. It is therefore imperative that they go for regular medical check-up. Education is important to raise awareness,” Dr Ko said.
An Open heart gets cleansed: Dr Albert Ko at his Ascot Hospital Clinic
(Indian Newslink Picture)