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St-Elisabeth site - Uccle
02-614 20 00
St-Michel site - Etterbeek
02-614 30 00
Bella Vita Medical Center - Waterloo
02-614 42 00

Dr Christophe Assenmacher: return on his surgical mission in Togo


For Dr Christophe Assenmacher, Head of the Urology Department of the Europe Hospitals, humanitarian work has become a tradition: for several years he has been going on surgical missions to Togo in order to provide his expertise and treat numerous patients suffering from urological pathologies via the non-profit organisation Solidarité Santé et Développement, which supports health care in Togo. A look back at a week at the Datcha convent...

February 2023. Dr Christophe Assenmacher, accompanied by Dr Baudouin van der Haert, anaesthetist, and Sarah Schildermans, nurse, set off in an old red Toyota towards Datcha, 150 km from Lomé, the capital of Togo. After a four-hour drive, they reach St Joseph's Hospital, a bush hospital and also a convent, run by three nuns, including the main sister, Sister Stella d'Almeida, a Togolese surgeon trained in Milan, Italy.

After consulting the various medical files, the team selected 15 patients as candidates for surgical adenomectomy(1) via the abdominal route. The other patients, suffering from hernias, ventrations, hydroceles(2), liposarcoma(3), etc. had already been examined by Sister Stella. In the end, 30 operations were carried out on 24 patients in 4 days. The surgery was carried out by Dr Assenmacher, assisted by Sister Stella, surgeon, and Sarah Schildermans, nurse instrumentalist, while Dr van der Haert provided the post-operative follow-up. The patients' families are very active in the continuous bladder flushes, which are essential for a smooth post-operative course.

In addition to the expertise of the medical team, it is also thanks to the association Solidarité Santé et Développement that this care is provided. This association, which has its headquarters in Wavre, supports health care in Togo by providing assistance of a medical, health, health education or management nature for health care structures or nursing and paramedical training. The Europe Hospitals also provide important logistical support by supplying surgical gloves and threads as well as valuable bladder catheters.

Although medical support is the main focus, other projects are underway to help St Joseph's Hospital. Built on 17 hectares of land, much of which is still undeveloped, a new wing has just been built with many cots and small cookers to accommodate families. The rest of the hospital-convent is in good condition and very clean, but is affected by high electricity consumption. "We would like to start a project with photovoltaic panels and batteries to make them energy self-sufficient and reduce their monthly costs," explains Dr Christophe Assenmacher.

The return of the team was smooth and it is with eyes full of stars that they are already thinking of beautiful future projects for the health care in Datcha.

(1) Surgical prostate adenomectomy involves removing the adenoma, the central part of the prostate.
(2) A hydrocele is an accumulation of fluid in a 'pouch' surrounding the testicle.
(3) Liposarcoma is a particular form of sarcoma (malignant tumour) affecting soft tissue. This tumour is characterised as being lipomatous, i.e. a tumour growing in fatty tissue.

Soeur StellaDr Assenmacher, Soeur Stella, Dr van der Haertéquipe médicale