University Hospital Galway's Cardiothoracic Unit celebrates its 1st Anniversary


May 12, 2008


100 cardiac by-pass operations take place in first year


University Hospital Galway's Cardiothoracic Unit recently celebrated its 1st Anniversary and has now carried out over 100 cardiac bypass operations. Patients who require lung surgery are also benefiting from access to care as UHG develops its status as a supra-regional centre for cardiothoracic services.


Commenting Bridget Howley, General Manager UHG said, "this milestone is a testament to the ongoing commitment to provide state of the art cardiothoracic services to the people of the West of Ireland. This is a significant achievement for the cardiothoracic team as well as the support staff in UHG".


Mark da Costa, Cardiothoracic Surgeon said, "The cardiothoracic team has grown from less than 5 in December 2006 to over 60 currently providing direct patient care. In addition to this, a significant number of staff are providing vital support to the surgical team, to ensure that patients receive a high level of care. Many of our patients have been from County Galway, however referrals have been sent from all counties in HSE West- from Donegal through to Limerick and Westmeath, The development of cardiothoracic surgery has also benefited a number of patients from other specialties including cardiology respiratory and oncology".


Dr Kieran Daly Consultant Cardiologist and Research and Medical Director of Croi said "The availability of cardiac surgery at UHG is a landmark achievement and highlights the significance of the work of Croi - the West of Ireland Cardiology Foundation, in campaigning and fundraising. The presence of the cardiothoracic unit coupled with the advances in cardiology at UHG now provide us with a world class specialist cardiac facility here in the West of Ireland"


The West of Ireland has long been associated with the development of both Cardiology and Cardiac Surgical service. Going back to the appointment of Dr Noel Brown as Minister for Health in 1948, the Psychiatric Hospital in Castlerea was commissioned as a regional chest hospital. Following the appointment of Mr. Des Kneafsey, Cardio-thoracic Surgeon, the Castlerea Unit carried out a remarkable range of cardiac and thoracic surgical procedures including mitral valvotomy.


In 1955, this service was transferred to the West Regional Chest Hospital, Galway (now Merlin Park University Hospital) where Mr. Kneafsey continued pioneering work in Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery. Open heart surgery using hypothermia was introduced for treatment of "hole in the heart" conditions and correction of narrowing of the aorta. Carotid artery surgery was also introduced.



The earliest heart lung bypass machines were introduced from London with a view to continuing to expand the range of surgery. In later years, when the National Cardiothoracic Centre in the Mater Hospital was established, cardiac bypass surgery was centered there, however, Mr. Kneafsey continued to carry out a wide range of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery in Merlin Park up to the time of his retirement in 1985.


There have been huge advances in technology and surgical techniques since 1985 - and this has been reflected in the state of the art systems and equipment purchased when this service was re-introduced in Galway. The cardiothoracic unit at UHG performed it's first coronary artery bypass graft on May 9th 2007. Since then, over 100 patients have undergone heart surgery in the unit. Many patients now have more complex needs than when Mr Kneafsey and his team were operating - and this requires a multi-disciplinary approach to provide high quality patient care. The cardiothoracic team will continue to strive towards a target of at 350-400 heart operations per year. The hospital will continue to support the service and work towards progressing Phase II.



Last updated on: 12 / 05 / 2008