Dr. Mohammed Ghanamah joins the Children's Heart Center at Batson just as Children's of Mississippi's expansion is under construction.
Dr. Mohammed Ghanamah, a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, joins the Children's Heart Center.
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Children’s Heart growth, leadership attract second pediatric heart surgeon

Published on Monday, April 1, 2019

By: Annie Oeth, aoeth@umc.edu

Working with a mentor in a children’s heart program that’s moving into a state-of-the-art children’s hospital expansion added up to an opportunity Dr. Mohammed Ghanamah was excited to take.

Ghanamah, who joined the Children’s Heart Center in February, specializes in surgeries to treat congenital heart disease in children and adults. He also is an assistant professor in pediatric and congenital heart surgery at the School of Medicine at UMMC.

 “Since I arrived Feb. 25, I have felt the warmth of the welcome of everyone here,” Ghanamah said. “People here work as a team, and they are making such a difference in the lives of children and their families.”

About one in every 100 children born has congenital heart disease, the most common type of birth defect. Critical congenital heart defects, which require surgery in the first year of life, occur in about 25 percent of those children born with CHD.

Batson is the only place in the state where pediatric heart surgery is performed, and Children’s of Mississippi physicians and surgeons have a record that rivals the nation’s leading children’s heart programs. In the past year, the most complex congenital heart operation, the Norwood, was performed eight times with a 100 percent survival rate.

After earning his medical degree at the University of Jordan in Amman, Ghanamah was an internal medicine and surgery resident at the Cleveland Clinic and a research fellow at Johns Hopkins University. A surgical residency at Methodist Hospital in Houston and a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Iowa followed. He then was a congenital cardiac surgery fellow at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, a part of Washington University, and later at Emory University School of Medicine’s Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Dr. Mohammed Ghanamah, center, and Dr. Brian Kogon, left, perform a pediatric surgical procedure.
Ghanamah, center, and Dr. Brian Kogon, left, perform a pediatric surgical procedure.

At Emory, Ghanamah trained with Dr. Brian Kogon, who joined Children’s of Mississippi in 2017 as chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery.

“Dr. Kogon suggested I take a look at the program in Mississippi,” Ghanamah said. “I enjoyed working with him very much in Atlanta, so working with him again was one of the first things that motivated me to come to Mississippi.”

What sealed the deal, though, was the work being done at the Children’s Heart Center, the care team there and the seven-story pediatric expansion now under construction at UMMC.

“I wanted to come to a place where we could make a significant impact on the lives of children,” he said. “Children’s of Mississippi is that place.”

Kogon said Ghanamah is a welcome addition to the Children’s Heart Center team.

“Dr. Ghanamah trained under me at Emory and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Congenital Heart Center of Georgia, one of the largest and most comprehensive congenital heart surgery programs in the country,” Kogon said. “He is an excellent surgeon and can perform the entire spectrum of congenital heart surgery.”

Ghanamah was drawn to children’s heart surgery as his specialty because of the difference it can make in a child’s life.

“These children, after surgery, are able to lead full, healthy lives,” Ghanamah said. “To be able to help children reach their full potential, sometimes through only one surgical procedure, is awesome.”

Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair, professor and chair of pediatrics, said having two pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons comes as the number of pediatric surgical suites will increase.

Portrait of Dr. Mary Taylor

“To meet the medical needs of Mississippi’s children, our services must expand,” she said. “Dr. Ghanamah brings a wealth of surgical skills and experience, and he will give our children the best of care.”

The Children’s Heart Center will have a new home in UMMC’s seven-story pediatric expansion now under construction. The $180 million project gave Ghanamah another reason to come aboard.

“The new hospital tower was another motivating factor,” he said. “You can see the construction and know that the leaders here are of the mindset of making advancements in pediatric care. This shows that they are not only listening and hearing the needs but that they will act.”

The expansion will also include private neonatal and pediatric intensive care rooms, including areas designed for young cardiology patients. Ten additional surgical suites will be ready at a moment’s notice, and an imaging suite designed just for children will make procedures such as MRIs faster and friendlier. An outpatient specialty clinic will place care from cardiologists as well as neurologists, orthopaedists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, hematologists and oncologists in one convenient location.

The Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, a philanthropic effort to help complete the expansion, has raised more than $72 million in less than three years. To learn more or to join the campaign, visit growchildrens.org.