Umhlanga Cardiovascular Perfusionist, Dr Rakesh Mohanlall has overcome many challenges and adversities in his career but through his passion and perseverance to succeed he is now an expert in the field of non-invasive cardiac diagnosis and treatment. Dr Mohanlall houses the only non-invasive diagnostic devise in Africa that is used for early detection and management of coronary artery disease and he has pioneered and established the only External Conterpulsation (ECP) centre in South Africa that is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and accredited as a satellite training unit .
Dr Rakesh Mohanlall is a Clinical Technologist, specializing in cardiovascular perfusion and holds 19 years of experience in his field. He was part of the heart bypass team in South Africa before he went abroad to Saudi Arabia and headed the perfusion department. There he was involved in various research and studies with international cardiologists and surgeons where he gained a vast array of knowledge on the latest techniques of cardiac rehabilitation. He completed his masters research through DUT and became the first perfusionist to attain a doctorate in this field after his masters was converted.
He returned to South Africa in 2008 and after having been a part of the bypass team for many years and witnessing the difficulties that cardiac patients experienced, he explored alternate non-invasive treatments that could benefit patients and give them a better quality of life. After extensive research and training, in 2010 together with a team made up of clinical technologists, a cardiothoracic surgeon, a hospital manager and renal physician, he opened the doors to ECP.
ECP is commonly known as a 'Natural Heart Bypass' and is a treatment for patients suffering from coronary artery disease and heart failure. It is FDA indicated for Angina; Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack); Congestive heart failure and Cardiogenic shock. The treatment results in the improvement of blood circulation by opening dormant arteries around the heart and thus reducing workload on the heart and symptoms of tiredness, chest pains, shortness of breath and exercise intolerance. A typical course of ECP is 35 one-hour treatments, done Monday to Friday. Clinical studies have shown that most patients treated with a single course of ECP experience a reduction in angina and are able to return to an active lifestyle.
Commenting on his journey to establish ECP in South Africa Dr Mohanlall said, "ECP has given cardiac patients a welcomed relief to their pains and sufferings. Like with anything else, bringing something new into the country and getting people to appreciate it was a difficult task. Although ECP has been practised throughout the world for decades, it was still unheard of in South Africa. It has taken us 27 to bring ECP to South Africa years, after Professor Zheng had perfected the treatment. Nevertheless my team and I have worked hard on this project and persevered with it. We now have also managed to successfully get over 25 medical aid schemes that pay for ECP only under my practice." adds Dr Mohanlall
Commenting further on the introduction of the 3 Dimensional Vasculography (3DVG) diagnostic device Dr Mohanlall said, "Two years after starting ECP, I realized that we still needed a reliable diagnostic assessment that would provide sufficient information on a patient in order to get the best outcomes. After thorough research and training abroad, I landed the device in Africa. "
The 3DVG assessment covers the kidney, lung and cardiac function in a 23 page report. It can measure a patient’s risk factors of having a heart attack. It shows 3 dimensional pictures of the heart and measures coronary artery blood flow in the heart. It measures up to 64 different parameters in the body and it is the only non-invasive diagnostic assessment tool available in the world that can establish early detection of coronary artery disease, even before symptoms present.
"We have now completed this diagnostic on hundreds of patients, many of whom were unable to get a diagnosis on existing diagnostics even though they were symptomatic. The 3DVG assessment has brought us patients from various parts of the globe and we have had the pleasure of even treating diplomats from outside South Africa," says Dr Mohanlall.
Earlier this year Dr Mohanlall had the honour of presenting as an international guest speaker at the 25th Saudi Heart Association on ECP and 3DVG where his presentations were well received. He is now working in collaboration with a cardiac team in Saudi Arabia to establish ECP and 3DVG there. The presentations can be viewed on our website: www.counterpusation.co.za
On commenting on some of his success stories with his patients Dr Mohanlall said, " My first ECP patient was a post bypass 65 year old gentleman who was in cardiac failure and not suitable for further intervention. He experienced shortness of breath and chest pain when walking even a short distance. Four years later he is still leading an active lifestyle and can walk 2km a day."
"My second patient who is now 72 years was advised by his doctors that he would be lucky if he lived to see the next 6 months. He was a post bypass patient in cardiac failure and bedridden at the time that I took over his treatment regimen. After ECP he experienced no more chest pains and could walk up to 6 km in a day. Recently he was admitted in cardiac ICU with difficulty in breathing which led to him being resuscitated for more than 30 minutes by the ICU team without success. I then took over the management of the resuscitation and revived the patient with no neurological damage. The cardiologist said that it was the 'most astounding resuscitation they had ever seen' and could not understand how I revived the patient after going against textbook protocol. He was amazed at the quick recovery of the patient who walked out of the hospital a few days later."
Another patient that I managed to save was a 48 year old female who complicated after she was taken in for an angiogram. She went into cardiac failure and her leg needed to be amputated due to complications. Her family requested for me to do the 3DVG test on her and using the results I advised that she was not in heart failure due to coronary artery disease but due to vascular shut down and that she would be able to undergo surgery to remove the clots in her legs rather than amputating. She was treated accordingly and walked out of hospital a few days later." More success stories and patient testimonials can be viewed on the website: www.counterpulsation.co.za
In concluding Dr Mohanlall said, "I was only able to assist these patients due my experience of having been part of the bypass team in South Africa and abroad as well as the abundance of information that the 3DVG assessment can provide and the experience I gained in performing the thousands of hours of ECP on patients. I have now come to a realization that ECP should be considered first in many patients before invasive interventional procedures in order to ensure the greatest success with the least pain and suffering rather than a patient going through all the invasive procedures and still coming back to perform ECP to get relief from their symptoms.”
Dr Mohanlall also noted that he owes his success in life to GOD as well as the support of his family, friends and wife Nishara, who is his pillar of strength. Dr Mohanlall and Nishara have two children Arya and Rikaar who are their greatest joys in life.