THE first-ever coronary artery bypass grafting surgery in Fiji took place in Lautoka yesterday by a visiting medical specialist from New Zealand.
Dr Patrick Kay, an international cardiologist, said three patients were identified as medically suitable for the treatment.
He said the operation which used technology which had been around for 47 years was never done in Fiji because of the lack of expertise and facilities.
"This has not been available in Fiji up until today," Dr Kay said.
He said patients suffering from this disease were normally taken to India under an agreement between the Ministry of Health and the government of India.
Dr Kay said they normally stayed in India for several weeks before returning to Fiji after successfully undergoing the treatment.
He said a possible barrier to bypass surgeries being conducted in Fiji was the cost.
Dr Kay said for patients with narrowing arteries which they found very hard to treat with stents in the long-term were referred for bypass surgery because they had valve problems.
"This is when they have critical disease in the important system and have had that disease for so many years," Dr Kay said.
He said it was also when all the three coronary arteries were diseased or narrowing.
The team brought in by the Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation in New Zealand are conducting a series of medical treatment in Suva, Labasa and Lautoka. The angiogram team is expected to leave the country today.