A Guy’s and St Thomas’ surgeon was the first in the UK to treat people with a complex hole in the heart without open heart surgery – meaning the first patient to undergo the operation was only off the golf course for a month.
Professor Eric Rosenthal developed the custom-made stents after patient Clive Robinson was referred to him with a congenital heart condition that causes breathlessness and palpitations, and possibly life-threatening blood clots.
Around 70 people per year in the UK have open heart surgery for Clive’s condition, which is called sinus venosus atrial septal defect (SVASD) and partial anomalous pulmonary venous drainage (PAPVD).
Prof Rosenthal spent two years developing and getting approval for a technique using a special titanium-covered stent that would allow Clive to avoid open heart surgery. This technique had only been used once before in India. Staff made a 3D printout of Clive’s heart to help develop the stent.
The four-hour procedure went ahead and was a success. Guy’s and St Thomas’ is now the largest centre in the world for this kind of operation, and the only place in the UK where patients can have it. Nearly 40 people have now had the procedure.
Clive said: “Before I met Eric, I was facing open heart surgery with all that entails plus months of rest and recuperation. This meant no driving and certainly no golf for many months.
“With Eric’s new method I was in hospital for a few nights to allow the incision to start to heal and had no pain. Within a very short time there was a marked improvement in my energy and strength and I was sleeping better.”
He added: “Now I feel great. I noticed an improvement in fitness within a week. I was driving within two weeks and swinging a golf club within a month. Within a short period of time I felt a surge of energy and was stronger, fitter and was sleeping better. It’s amazing.”