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Pictured: Newcastle's Ventricular Assisted Devices Experts

Our heart and lung specialists welcome experts from around the world


North East heart and lung surgeons shared their expertise today, when they welcomed international delegates to their annual Mechanical Circulatory Support conference.

Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital – an internationally-renowned centre of excellence for all forms of heart and lung surgery – welcomed over 100 clinicians from around the world to the Institute of Transplantation on Friday 7th December 2018.

The aim of the conference is to discuss the exciting new era of mechanical circulatory support techniques which are used, in the main, to keep people alive while they wait for a heart transplant. These include ventricular assisted devices or VADs, and ECMO, both of which support the heart and lung function of extremely unwell patients.

“We are delighted to host our 9th annual conference here in Newcastle,” says Professor Stephan Schueler, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon and conference chair.

“Our mechanical circulatory support services really started in earnest around ten years ago and we’ve seen many pioneering advances during this time.

“In particular, long term VAD therapy has developed into a standardised and mostly home based care with remarkable outcomes, allowing a near normal life for many patients.”

The specialist VAD service was set up in Newcastle to offer a life line to patients who had become extremely unwell whilst waiting for a heart transplant.

For many patients, the device helps to keep the heart functioning until a donor organ becomes available.  However over the years, the team has seen increasing numbers of patients’ hearts recovering to the point that they no longer need a transplant.

Professor Schueler continues: “An exciting consequence of using VADs has been the full recovery of some patients’ hearts, so much so that they no longer need a heart transplant. We have seen many examples of this at the Freeman in Newcastle, and for this day-long event to attract so many clinicians from all over the world confirms the international reputation we enjoy in this field.”

With around 300 people waiting for a transplant in the UK at any one time, but not enough donor organs,the role of mechanical circulatory support has become increasingly important.

“Exploring what VADs can offer has led to numerous scientific and clinical advances”, adds Professor Schueler.

“Our conference will stimulate discussion and the sharing of experiences between all the experts, with the ultimate aim of improving the care for advanced heart failure patients around the world.”

Dame Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive for the Newcastle Hospitals says: “We are extremely proud to host this major conference which offers a superb opportunity to showcase our advanced cardiothoracic expertise to like-minded clinicians on a global scale.”

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