A SURGEON from Oxford who led a pioneering heart operation in Greece has demanded to be allowed to do it on the NHS.
Prof Stephen Westaby, who works at the John Radcliffe Hospital, spoke out after leading a surgical team in Greece who used a combination of an artificial heart and stem cells to save the life of a dying man.
‘I am very frustrated that all the work that I have done back home in the UK has to be translated into patient care in other countries’
It is thought to be the the first time the combination has been used.
Greek patient Ioannis Manolopoulos was fitted with the mechanical pump in Thessaloloniki because his heart was too weak.
Surgeons then injected his heart with six million of his own stem cells to repair the damage.
Prof Westaby is professor of biomedical sciences at the John Radcliffe Hospital, and has pioneered the use of Jarvic pumps in patients suffering heart failure.
But the NHS does not routinely pay for the treatment, and Prof Westaby relies on charity funding, or travels abroad to implant pumps in countries where governments are prepared to fund the £60,000 devices.
He said: “I am very frustrated that all the work that I have done back home in the UK has to be translated into patient care in other countries.
“We have helped to develop programmes in France, Greece and Japan. It’s time we did it in the UK.”
He said heart pumps could save 12,000 lives each year.
He added: “The economics in the health service are the problem. So many patients could benefit that the costs would be substantial.”
The NHS only funds pumps for transplant patients waiting for a donor heart. About 100 a year are implanted.
Helen Peggs, a spokesman for Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, said it could take years before Nice, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, approved the procedure for NHS patients.
She added: “Oxford’s doctors have an international reputation for pioneering research in many areas and make an enormous contribution to increasing knowledge of the causes, diagnosis and treatment of disease.
“It is not unusual for this research and innovation to be carried out elsewhere, as in this case, in collaboration with other experts.
“However, we are lucky in Oxfordshire that these doctors also work in our hospitals, so that local patients benefit from their expertise.”
LONDON – A British surgeon has for the first time used a combination of an artificial heart and stem cells to save the life of a dying man.
Professor Stephen Westaby, based at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, led the team that operated on Ioannis Manolopoulos in Thessaloniki, Greece, to fit him with the mechanical pump because his heart was too weak to push blood around his body.
Surgeons then injected his failing heart muscle with six million of his own stem cells in the hope that they would repair the damage, reports The Times.
Manolopoulos, who is recovering after the operation two weeks ago, told Sky News: “If things go well, I must go to church and pray because I feel very lucky to get this device and have the chance of a normal life.”
He had been in hospital for four months after at least two heart attacks and other treatment had failed to improve his condition. (ANI)