Nearly half of all adult deaths in Saudi Arabia are from heart disease, while risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes continue surging.

“Heart disease is a massive killer here, and there is a paramount need to deliver an excellent cardiac program,” says Harry Parissis, head of cardiac surgery at our joint venture Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH).

Adding to this health crisis, cardiac patients in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province once had to wait months for treatment because only three hospitals in the region were performing adult open-heart surgery.

That changed last year, following three years of collaborative work with JHAH to expand cardiac care and tackle this epidemic in Saudi Arabia.

Fortunately, from Day 1 of the joint venture, JHAH already had the dedicated staff and talent across the clinical specialties that are needed to open a comprehensive heart care center. JHAH and Johns Hopkins teams built on these assets and worked together to determine additional resources, equipment, staffing and training necessary to begin offering cardiac surgery.

In 2017, we oversaw an expansive international search that led to JHAH hiring Parissis as its new cardiac surgeon, and he helped carry out the final preparations to offer cardiac surgery.

JHAH launched its program that April, with a coronary artery bypass. Six more bypasses and one valve replacement followed over the next nine days.

“Thanks to our partnership with Johns Hopkins, we were confident we could tackle challenging cases from the start,” says Parissis. “We are equally confident and highly focused on building a robust program that will benefit JHAH and other Saudi patients for years to come.”

This post highlights content from JHI’s FY17-FY18 Impact Report, Realizing the Mission. Read the full report and check out this video to learn more about our transformational work in international collaborative health from the last two fiscal years.

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