Global first as hospital uses new heart pump

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When Bill Geldart suffered a heart attack and consultants told him it was too risky to give him a heart bypass he feared his options were limited.

Initially the 72-year-old managed on medication alone, but the chest pain was so bad it was keeping him awake at night and left him unable to even take his dog for a walk.

Mr Geldart on CCU

Bill Geldart on the coronary care unit with cardiologists Rob Wright, Douglas Muir and Paul Williams

Bill’s existing lung problems meant surgery was out of the question, or at least it was until interventional cardiologists at The James Cook University Hospital suggested they could perform the procedure using a new device which would keep his heart beating at a normal rhythm during the operation.

The Stockton granddad was undeterred by the fact that it was an extremely high risk procedure and on Thursday 21 January he became the first patient to undergo an operation with the HeartMate PHP cardiac assist device.

The minimally invasive device from St Jude Medical is designed to improve consistent blood flow for severely ill patients during high risk procedures and has only previously been used in research – this was its first commercial use worldwide and its first ever use in the UK.

After implanting the HeartMate PHP device interventional cardiologists Douglas Muir and Paul Williams were able to carry out an operation to insert stents into Bill’s blood vessels – to allow his blood to flow more freely – with an increased level of safety.

The retired British Gas worker says he has never felt better as his pain has completely vanished. He is now out of hospital and looking forward to being able to take his dog Bess for a walk again.

HeartMate PHP system

The HeartMate PHP system

“Impressed does not even begin to describe it,” said Bill. “When Dr Muir came up with the idea I jumped at it. I knew the risks but I was prepared to take the risks to get rid of the pain.

“What they have done for me is unbelievable. I can’t fault any of the care I have received.”

Dr Muir said: “The device took on part of the pumping action of the heart which enabled us to carry out the angioplasty. It was a very complex procedure which took around two and a half hours. I don’t think his heart would have supported him during the procedure without it.”

Dr Williams said: “It made it quite straight forward for us as we did not have to worry about his heart stopping. It let us concentrate on the technicalities of the procedure and not worry about his blood pressure dropping as the pump was taking care of that part.”

While similar devices have been used in operations before, this is the only one on the market which can pump four to five litres of blood per minute – the same as an actual heart would.

Dr Muir added: “Mr Geldart had such a fantastic response. It’s good to know this technology exists now for similar patients.”