The Father of Open Heart Surgery Opens His Heart at Live2Lead 2023

Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng is an astute German-trained Ghanaian cardiothoracic surgeon and founder of the National Cardiothoracic Centre whose recent foray into Ghanaian politics nearly marred his otherwise stellar legacy. He is also the Founder and President of the Ghana Heart Foundation, erstwhile Chief Executive Officer of Ghana’s premier teaching hospital (the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, in Accra) and immediate past Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation for the Republic of Ghana (2017-2021). He has been a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences since December 2002.


The best leaders lead from the power of their life stories, positive and otherwise. Even before Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng would be born, his father Kofi Frimpong died from chest/heart injuries sustained from a road traffic accident. Kwabena was barely four months from birth. It comes as no surprise then that although his first love was engineering, due to his affinity for physics and mathematics while he attended Sekondi College in the Western Region of Ghana, he later would later go the doctor route at university. As if destiny was calling, after the University of Ghana Medical School and housemanship, he was offered a scholarship to study general, cardiothoracic and vascular surgery in Germany. As Frimpong-Boateng figured he could help people with heart situations like his late father, he took the opportunity to sharpen his craft and deepen his calling at the Hannover Medical University in Hannover.

So forty years ago, in 1983, Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng and his team of professors did their first heart transplant on a human being and then performed his first transplant as the lead surgeon in October 1985. This made him the first Black doctor to perform a heart transplant, earning him the nickname the “Black Pearl.”

At the time, he was recognized worldwide for this feat and as if that was not enough, in November 1988, three years later, he struck another first: the first heart-lung transplantation in Hannover. After finishing his post-graduate studies, despite being in very high demand in Europe, he chose to return to the land of his birth to practise as Ghana’s first locally based cardiothoracic surgeon. Frimpong-Boateng performed the first open-heart surgery in Ghana using the heart-lung-machine.

Even away from the hospital, as a farmer Frimpong-Boateng established the first ostrich farm in Ghana, in the village of Dedukope, in the Volta Region of Ghana.



Translating his personal success into societal significance, in 1989 he set up the National Cardiothoracic Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and was commissioned in 1992. There were no cardiothoracic surgery facilities in the country at the time and this was really avant garde for a country still struggling with primary health care issues such as mosquito-bourne Malaria and childhood vaccinations. Today, people head to the centre from all over the continent for cardiothoracic attention and is now recognised by the West African College of Surgeons to train heart surgeons, cardiologists, cardiac anaesthetists, operating room nurses, intensive care nurses, cardiac technicians, and other cardiothoracic technicians. As a practicing Christian, he has said that his work on the foundation of the National Cardiothoracic Centre was God’s purpose in his life.

One of the greatest way to pass on legacy is by teaching others. Frimpong-Boateng joined the University of Ghana Medical School as a lecturer in 2000 and was promoted associate professor the same year. He was made a full professor in 2002. He also served as the head of the Department of Surgery at the University of Ghana Medical School, prior to his appointment as the Chief Executive of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in 2002. The Ghana Heart Foundation, which he also founded, raises funds to pay for heart surgery for some indigent Ghanaians who cannot afford the cost of such specialized surgery.

Again, he has done well, in terms of passing on legacy, by authoring a couple of biographical books, Deep Down my Heart: A History of Cardiothoracic Surgery in Ghana and Taming the Monster, a treatise on managing Ghana’s behemothic premier teaching hospital.

In March 2006, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng unsuccessfully sought nomination as the candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for the December 2008 national presidential elections. Regardless of his results, he declared he was still concerned with political issues in relation to education and health problems and would later become a Minister of State. Yet he regrets that political corruption in Ghana is too much and opines that politicians are not taking social priorities into account, especially the need for technology. His foray into the deep and often turbulent waters of politics, especially as chairman of the inter-ministerial committee on illegal mining in the country, nearly marred his enviable legacy of pioneering and impactful lifework. In a recent interview with the Africa Watch magazine, he boldly declared, “Impunity rules in Ghana.”

The erudite professor has had several local and international awards over the last four decades, including two honorary doctorates. Frimpong-Boateng and his wife, Agnes, have five children, some of whom are doctors also.



The good professor speaks at this year’s annual live2lead Ghana, a brainchild of Dr. John C. Maxwell. As Perbi Executive Leadership Education (PELE), we have been privileged to host Live2Lead on both sides of the Atlantic, in Montreal, Canada as well as in Accra, Ghana. We are absolutely convinced that leadership is taught; not just caught. Join John and the stellar faculty he’s put together for this year’s Live2Lead conference and up your leadership game.

This year, together with our partners in Ghana, we’ve chosen the theme, “Leading for Legacy.” Speaking of legacy, in the said interview with the Africa Watch magazine, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said, “Life is not all about fame and money, but more importantly, what one can do to help others.” He also recently wrote An Open Letter to Anybody Who Wants to be President of Ghana in 2025.  Among other things, words that bordered along legacy were the following:  “…the success of true leadership is measured by what extent the people can be mobilized to lead independent lives: to feed, shelter, clothe, heal, and defend themselves, and also produce tools, implements, spare parts and machines they require for daily living, so that if for one reason or the other ships and airplanes are unable to access the country the citizens can stand on their own and survive.” Come and find out how to truly lead successfully, in-person at the Ecobank Ghana Headquarters in Accra, or online, wherever in the world you might be!

October 6 is Leader Day this year. Register now through this link. Impress upon your organization to join the Leadership Emphasis Day/Leader Day movement that will transform society by becoming a Patron of Live2Lead. A Patron company or individual is one that sends at least 10 leaders to Live2Lead. Together we can change our world for the better! Yes we can!

Register HERE, NOW.

About The Author



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our Newsletter