Meet Dr. Alex Loth from Tanzania

April 11, 2019

Dr. Alex Loth wanted to be a doctor to help people - “that’s it” he says. “As a child, I saw some sick people in the hospital and I thought to myself maybe one day I will be able to help these people.”

Dr. Alex Loth was born on July 22, 1984 in the district hospital in Arusha. He attended primary school there and later studied physics, chemistry and biology in high school, after which he went on to medical school for five years (2005-2010) in Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences.

Dr. Loth then spent his internship year at Muhimbili National Hospital and was later placed as a medical doctor in the Arusha region at a public hospital. After one year, he applied to work at the Muhimbili National Hospital in the unit of cardiology in internal medicine for both children and adults. Later, the cardiovascular department was established and they moved to a new building - what became the Jakaya Kikwete National Institute. From 2014-2017 Dr. Loth continued to pursue a masters of Medicine in Anesthesiology at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences.

Anesthesiology is a rare specialty in Tanzania and working out of a cardiovascular center as Dr. Loth does, he and his colleagues were expected to do a lot of procedures to adults and pediatrics - from cath lab to the theater. At the time of his specialization, the center had only two anesthesiologists, to perform general anesthesia and provide post-op care to patients in the ICU.

“If you are going to super-specialize, you are going to learn how to give anesthetics to patients undergoing open heart surgery - that’s why I’m here”, Dr. Loth says. “I’m coming here to super-specialize to learn more how to give anesthetics to patients who are going into open heart surgery and also the intensive care part of the operation.”

There is currently one intensivist at Jakaya Kikwete National Institute, Dr. Vivianne who was also trained in Israel by Save a Child’s Heart. When Dr. Loth returns after two years in Israel, he will join Dr. Vivianne in the Pediatric ICU as well as administer anesthesia to pediatric cardiac patients.  

“Save a Child’s Heart found me doing anesthetics in Jikaya Kikwete on a SACH mission two years ago.” Then, Dr. Loth worked alongside the team when they were present in Tanzania for a medical mission to assist Dr. Gowin Godfrey, Tanzania’s first fully-trained pediatric cardiac surgeon who spent five years in Israel. Dr. Loth continued, “we do not have the super-specialty yet [in Tanzania], I got interested to work with them learning new techniques and skills [...] When a mission comes, some other people do not participate - I usually make myself available during the missions - I’m interested in learning new things from different groups. I’m not exposed to that from home, so it is my learning opportunity - so I put effort and sacrifice, at least a whole week I should be there and luckily they let me and observe me. Last mission, I did most of the cases - [SACH doctors saw] me through from start to end."

This is not Dr. Loth’s first time in Israel. Last February, he escorted a child to Israel for a life-saving procedure and brought two returning children home. The most difficult part of being here in Israel is being away from his wife and two young children, who Dr. Loth Watsapps with every day. Still, Dr. Loth looks forward to his two years in Israel; “I will increase my skills and knowledge and when I go back home, they will benefit from what I’ve learned and I will be able to teach others.”