Vascular Voices: Helen Okoye, MBBS, FMCPath, FWACP

June 20, 2024

In this series, World Thrombosis Day (WTD) shares interviews with members of its scientific Steering Committee. In today’s profile, learn about Helen Okoye, Attending Physician and Thrombosis Specialist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Nigeria.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in this field?

Okoye: I chose to pursue a career in thrombosis due to its critical impact on public health, the intellectual challenge it presents and the opportunity to advance research and treatment in haematology and medicine at large. Additionally, personal experiences and the potential to make a significant difference in patient outcomes further motivated my decision. The collaborative environment and educational roles within this field also contribute to its appeal.

What is an average day like for you in the clinic? What type of patients do you see?

Okoye: I run a fairly busy thrombosis and haemostasis clinic, once a week, from 9:00 to about 15:00. I see patients with both thrombosis and haemostasis disorders with my team. The bulk of the patient load are patients who are being seen for cancer-associated thrombosis. We also see a good number of patients with haemophilia.

What inspired you to join the World Thrombosis Day Steering Committee?

Okoye: Joining the World Thrombosis Day (WTD) Steering Committee was inspired by a deep commitment to raising awareness about thrombosis, a critical but often under-recognized condition. The opportunity to contribute to public health initiatives, collaborate with leading experts and advance education and research in thrombosis were significant motivators. Additionally, personal experiences with the impact of thrombosis and a desire to improve patient outcomes globally played a key role in this decision. I am so delighted being a member of the WTD steering committee. I consider joining this committee the much-needed springboard for greater impact and enlightenment.

How do you rate awareness of thrombosis in Nigeria? Is it generally understood among the public?

Okoye: Our local survey in 2021 showed that the awareness of thrombosis is low. Creating the much-needed awareness of thrombosis is still a work in progress. The impact is evident with the increased presentations to hospitals and increase in the number of diagnoses.

What are the biggest challenges you see in thrombosis treatment and prevention?

Okoye: One of our major challenges is that of access to care and healthcare disparities. Due to our limited healthcare resources, we have poor access to diagnostic tools and medications. These negatively affects optimal prevention and treatment of thrombosis.

Are you working on any interesting research projects right now?

Okoye: Yes, I am working on a number of projects right now, one of them is centered around risk assessment tools in gynae-oncology.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Okoye: Outside of work, I enjoy a variety of activities that help me relax, stay active and engage with my interests. I enjoy being indoors with family, playing games, seeing movies together, engaging in projects and crafts. I particularly love travelling – exploring new places, meeting new people and experiencing different cultures.

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