Seventh-day Adventist-ownedAndrews Memorial Hospital (AMH) in Kingston, Jamaica, was the Center of Excellence site where a patient was the first ever to benefit from a 4-level viscoelastic cervical disc replacement procedure.
The surgery, which will usher in a revolutionary new treatment approach in spinal surgery globally, was performed by a team of doctors led by Harvard-trained and world-renown orthopedic spinal surgeon, Kingsley R. Chin on Jan. 30, 2017, using an advanced technology known as theFreedom® Cervical Disc.
Owned by AxioMed, LLC., the technology took sixteen years and over US$85 million to achieve the level of perfection, safety and efficacy in both the lumbar and cervical versions to implant the discs in the United States, Europe and Australia. The lumbar version completed its clinical trials in more than 400 patients in the United States and will likely be available in 2018. The cervical version completed the preclinical trials in Europe.
Kingsley R. Chin is Jamaican and a leading surgeon-entrepreneur who saw the benefits of the technology and invested in buying it from the original group of founders so he could now offer it in the country. Chin worked in business in New York City before becoming a surgeon and follows a lineage of physicians who have pioneered advances in medicine. He founded companies to commercialize technologies that have benefitted patients worldwide.
This particular technology is ideal for treating the painful degenerative spine as it most closely mimics the normal disc using a proprietary viscoelastic polymer technology, explained Chin. The purpose of the disc is to relieve neck and back pain while maintaining more normal motion and alignment than is allowed with other competing disc replacements and spinal fusion devices, which immobilize the spine.
A year ago, Chin, who has been operating out of the University of the West Indies (UWI) as a visiting professor, was encouraged by Fabio Pencle, a Seventh-day Adventist physician, to open his US-based Orthopedic and Spine Surgery, LESS Institute Inc. Center of Excellence at Andrews Memorial Hospital. TheLESS Institute Inc.is considered the world leader in LESS Exposure Surgery (LES), a philosophy of less invasive surgery, which allows patients to be discharged the same day after surgery with quick recovery.
Chin grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist in his hometown of Buff Bay, Portland, Jamaica and left the country for the United States on a football-academic scholarship to attend Columbia University in New York City, where he earned two diplomas, was president of his senior class and soccer ivy-league player of the year. He went on to graduate studies at Harvard University where he earned four diplomas and became an orthopedic surgeon. Chin spent four years teaching at the University of Pennsylvania as the chief spine surgeon before he moved to Florida to open the LESS Institute.
“I am blessed to have the desire, ability, commitment, means and access to resources to allow me to give back to Jamaica in very meaningful and powerful ways like this surgery,” said Chin. “Coming from the humblest of circumstances, I can now look back and see the reasons for my journey. I especially see how much I needed the strength and lessons I received from my Seventh-day Adventist faith as a young boy and why it is fitting for Andrews Memorial Hospital to be the site of this historic surgery.”
Chin said he still has to try his best every day at every level for each patient. “I pray for humility to keep learning to be better as I dedicate myself to excellence, never forgetting that I am blessed for a reason.”
“We are delighted that the hospital partnered with Dr. Chin to execute this historic surgery in Jamaica,” said Pastor Everett Brown, chairman of the board of governors of Andrews Memorial Hospital, and president of the church in Jamaica. “We are pleased to know that our hospital is strategically placed and has the capacity not only to provide basic health care to people from all social, religious and economic backgrounds, but also to address the healthcare needs of individuals, utilizing modern technology.”
Brown said the hospital remains committed to making the facility available to enhance the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of all people.
AMH currently boasts 65 beds, five wards, four operating theaters, one which specializes in large specialty cases such as open heart surgery, a multi-dimensional CT Scan machine and a major medical complex. Over the years, the hospital has developed a reputation for being one of the most outstanding maternity centers in Jamaica and many of the island’s foremost obstetricians/gynecologists make it their hospital of choice for their patients.
The patient operated on by Chin was happy to have been introduced to LESS Institute by a relative of hers. She was also grateful for the fact that the surgery took place in Jamaica, with a team of doctors that she was familiar with.
“I felt very relaxed going into surgery, and felt the team had my best interest at heart,” said the patient, who is at home recuperating and looking forward to become more active soon.
“The vision for Andrews Memorial Hospital is to be the hospital of choice for the Caribbean,” said Marvin Rouhotas, Chief Executive Officer of the hospital. “No doubt, this historic surgery has positioned the hospital with the advantage of the expertise of neuro-spinal surgery not performed anywhere else in the world.”
In October 2010, the Gleaner Company, Jamaica’s oldest print newspaper, described Andrews Memorial Hospital as a gift from the Adventist Church to Jamaica, as it presented the hospital with the Gleaner Honor Award for its commitment to providing first-class health care to Jamaicans.