Dr. Penelope Adinku is Ghana’s first female cardiothoracic surgeon, and her specific specialties include pediatric heart surgery. Following her graduation from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology’s medical program, Adinku joined the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) and completed a three-year general surgery membership program.
She then started working at the National Cardiothoracic Center at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra in April 2022.
During an interview, she told CTSnet “I knew I wanted to be a surgeon in my final year of medical school. As I did my rotation in the Department of Surgery, I saw people come with varying conditions which were treated by surgeons. During my housemanship rotation in pediatrics, I also came across children with congenital heart disease, and I had the desire to help them. This drew me more to cardiothoracic surgery.”
According to The African Dream, the trailblazer made another historic move in May 2022, successfully repairing a 6-year-old girl’s heart in a surgical procedure. The National Cardiothoracic Center’s chairman, Dr. Lawrence Agyemang Serebour, oversaw the courageous physician during her first-ever procedure, according to the publication.
Additionally, Adinku was named the 2022 Best Candidate in Cardiothoracic Surgery in West Africa. The Korle Bu Teaching Hospital applauded her achievement on social media with the caption, “Congratulations Dr. Penelope Adinku, Ghana’s first female Cardiothoracic Surgeon and a staff member of the National Cardiothoracic Centre, on being crowned the 2022 Best Candidate in Cardiothoracic Surgery in West Africa.”
She told CTSnet, “Becoming the first female cardiac surgeon in Ghana has definitely created the awareness that this is a field women can aspire to be a part of. I have personally met more female doctors after this feat who have expressed interest in cardiac surgery. There, however, needs to be a lot more deliberate work done for the numbers to increase considerably. We need more mentorship programs to expose more females to the specialty.”
She also stated that she hopes to see the female-to-male ratio in this field reach at least one-to-one.
Dr. Adinku becomes the latest in a long line of Ghanaian women who have excelled in their areas, such as the late Constance Ama Emefa Edjeani-Afenu, the country’s first female major general and brigadier general.