‘What happened to me was truly amazing’ - one year on cardiac centre is ‘transforming’ care
- Credit: WSFT
One year after the opening of a multi-million-pound heart centre at West Suffolk Hospital hundreds of people have benefitted from potentially life-saving procedures.
Michael Brown, 81, from Hundon, near Haverhill, is one of those to have experienced first hand the importance of the new cardiac centre, which was built with a £5.2million investment from West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) and half a million pounds raised by the hospital's My WiSH Charity and their fundraisers.
Thanks to the new diagnostic unit, achieved through the Every Heart Matters appeal that was backed by the East Anglian Daily Times and the Mercury Series newspapers, new procedures can be performed on site, such as fitting 247 potentially life-saving pacemakers and 129 implantable loop recorders so far.
READ MORE: Every Heart Matters appeal reaches its £500,000 targetMr Brown, who attended the centre's first birthday celebrations on Wednesday, December 11, with his wife Mary, was fitted with a pacemaker the same day he felt poorly and sought advice from his GP on Christmas Eve last year.
He said: "What happened to me was truly amazing. I didn't feel nervous or anxious at all, and nor did my wife.
"The whole cardiac team are so talented and reassuring, it was lovely to come back today and see all their smiling faces again. I feel a lot better this year than I did last year."
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Mr Brown felt very tired and unwell and went to see his GP, Dr Simon Whitehead from the Guildhall Surgery in Clare, at 10am on Christmas Eve 2018.
Dr Whitehead realised Michael had heart problems and sent him straight to West Suffolk Hospital where the team fitted him with a pacemaker at 2pm. He was able to leave hospital at 6pm the same day and enjoy Christmas Day with his family.
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The cardiac centre was officially opened on December 11, 2018, by the Every Heart Matters appeal ambassador, famous jockey Frankie Dettori.
Dr Pegah Salahshouri, lead cardiology consultant at WSFT who was the driving force behind the new centre, said: "I can't believe it has been a whole year since the cardiac centre opened - my colleagues and I hit the ground running from the first moment, and they have been incredible ever since, so I want to thank them for their hard work and dedication to our patients."
She added they now also have the capacity to do both emergency and non-emergency angiographies - a type of X-ray used to check the health of a person's blood vessels and how blood flows through them - and have conducted 789 of these in the new centre to date.
"We used to only be able to offer elective angiograms once a week, in a mobile unit that visited the hospital car park; our new centre really has revolutionised the care we can offer our patients."
The cardiac diagnostic unit is where patients first go to have tests if they have suspected heart problems.
Tests include echocardiograms (ultrasound scans of the heart), electrocardiograms (ECGs which are tests that records the electrical activity of the heart), exercise tolerance tests (ECGs recorded while a person is exercising) and more complex scans.
Sue Smith, head of fundraising at My WiSH Charity, said: "I am so proud to tell our fundraisers about the amazing work that is happening in the diagnostic unit that they helped to create.
"In the 11-month period after the new centre was opened the trust has performed more than 19,500 diagnostic tests.
"These vital tests help to ensure a quick and accurate diagnosis for our cardiac patients, and the staff are so pleased to be working in their modern, dynamic new surroundings. It just shows what a difference our community fundraisers make to the care in our hospital."
If you would like to fundraise for My WiSH Charity, that supports West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, email here or call 01284 713466.