Celebrating 10 Years Of Cardiothoracic Surgery In Canterbury
FROM: Michele Hider, Communications Manager
DATE: Thursday 6 December 2007
Ten years ago, South Island patients needing life-saving heart surgery had to travel all the way to Dunedin for
Today, Christchurch Hospital’s Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit is considered an Australasian leader in coronary bypass
surgery on the beating heart; a method of coronary artery bypass, which has helped in early recuperation and made
operations possible for high risk patients, with minimal complications*.
Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit Clinical Director Harsh Singh said reaching the ten year milestone was a real achievement
for the team and he said every member of the team, past and present, should be congratulated for it.
“In the beginning there was a long political battle to establish a new unit so it was very important for the team to
deliver,” said Mr Singh. “Now we would be considered one of the frontrunners of the five units that are in the country.”
Mr Singh said to come so far in such a short time was a reflection of the quality of work being done.
“The overall mortality of the unit is under 2.5%, which is well below international bench marks.”
Christchurch Hospital's General and Cardiothoracic Surgery Service Manager Marilyn Ollett said almost 3000 patients have
had heart surgery since the service began with two cardiac surgeons. "The team has a real family feel about it - it's a
small team but a close one."
The Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit performed its first operation on 3 December 1997. To celebrate ten years the team has
invited some of its earliest cardiothoracic patients to celebrate the anniversary.
Landmark achievements include the introduction of beating heart surgery and surgery for heart failure, video assisted
surgery for lung conditions, inviting leading surgeons from the USA to help carry out pioneering surgery and the
introduction of surgery for atrial fibrillation.
*Beating heart surgery has lead to shorter hospital stays after surgery and quicker recovery.