Thanks to the efforts of fundraisers and generosity of the local community there will be a new home for heart research on Teesside, just as Teesside's heart unit is celebrating a milestone anniversary after 30 years of delivering state-of-the-art care to patients with cardiovascular disease across the region and beyond.
Two local charities, Our Hospitals Charity and South Cleveland Heart Fund, announced ambitious plans to raise £650,000 in March 2022 to bring first class cardiovascular research facilities to Teesside.
The charities worked together on Hearts + Minds, a joint appeal to fund the creation of a cardiothoracic research unit at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.
With help from staff and patients, their fundraising goal has now been exceeded and work is underway to transform existing space at the hospital into a leading-edge facility.
This will include the creation of a dedicated clinical setting for patients in research trials as well as a reception, patient waiting area, new office space and a meeting room.
More research with patients
Rebecca Maier, head of the Academic Cardiovascular Unit (ACU) which will be based in the new facility said: “We are so delighted that this phenomenal fundraising effort has come together, and we now see the start of this build which will enable the design, management and delivery teams all be located together.
Co-locating will enable us to develop and deliver more research, with patients at the centre of what we do. It is such an exciting time to be involved in cardiovascular research in Teesside.”
Professor Enoch Akowuah, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon and co-director of the ACU said: “We’re thrilled and very excited to be able to open the unit at James Cook which could help countless people not just in the local community, but around the world.
It will focus on research which prevents heart attacks, develops exercise programmes in patients with heart problems and makes better use of data and digital technology in research.
“And it will enable the trust to become an internationally recognised centre of excellence in cardiovascular research as well as leading the way across the north east region.”
Research is at the heart of the department
Dr David Austin, consultant cardiologist and co-director of the ACU said: “The clinical research facility will mean we can design, manage and deliver clinical research from the heart of our department. This is a major step forward, and we are grateful to the charities, patients, and staff who have made this possible.”
A history of heart care on Teesside
It was 20 January 1993 when the first cardiac catheterisation laboratory was officially opened at what was then South Cleveland Hospital while the first cardiothoracic surgery was performed in 1994.
Former consultant cardiologist Adrian Davies, now chairman of South Cleveland Heart Fund, played an instrumental role in bringing the heart unit to Middlesbrough, which 30 years ago had some of the poorest heart health rates in the country alongside some of the worst access to treatment.
Now, Adrian is pleased that the future for heart health in the region is beating as strong as ever: “I am delighted that the long-awaited cardiothoracic research unit has finally come to fruition thanks to the South Cleveland Heart Fund and Our Hospitals Charity raising the £650,000 necessary. It will be the capstone of our excellent heart unit, further enhancing its reputation as one of the very best and improving care for heart patients both in our region and worldwide.”
Thank you to our incredible fundraisers
Ben Murphy, head of Our Hospitals Charity, added: “We are over the moon to have reached our target, especially in the current climate when times are hard for people. Once again, it just goes to show the generosity of people in our region is truly amazing.
“This new research unit will help so many of our loved ones by helping reduce the risk of heart attacks – it’s just fantastic for our area and it’s all thanks to the generosity of our incredible fundraisers!”