Shop Donate

A closer look at the Bristol Paediatric Cardiac Unit

Bristol Children's Hospital Cardiac Ward

The Grand Appeal provides continued support to the children’s cardiac unit at Bristol Children’s hospital by funding the Cardiac Hybrid Theatre – a complex and specialist operating theatre – as well as providing funding for ward refurbishments, patient comforts as well as family accommodation.

The origins of the current Bristol Paediatric Cardiac Unit are from 1995 when Mr Ash Pawade (Paediatric Cardiac Surgeon) and Dr Andrew Wolf (Paediatric Cardiac Anaesthetist and intensive care doctor) were appointed from other senior posts to establish a Specialised Paediatric Cardiac Service for the South West. Both had previously worked as consultants in The Hospital for Sick Children Melbourne, Australia, which was an established world famous centre for this rapidly developing speciality.

Surgery, which previously had been undertaken in the Bristol Royal Infirmary, was moved up to the Old Children’s Hospital on St Michael’s Hill, Bristol in a new purpose built operating theatre. In addition, an expanded and up to date Intensive Care Unit was developed with state of the art equipment and an expanded nursing team. From the outset, the newly assembled group were able to establish documented outcomes from heart surgery in children that were among the best in the UK and abroad. This work was undertaken under an intense scrutiny as a National inquiry into the poor outcomes prior to 1995 (The Bristol Heart Inquiry) was taking place.

In the first year, 175 cases were undertaken in the new operating theatre and six bedded Intensive Care Unit. Since that time the work has expanded to over 400 congenital cardiac operations a year with patients coming from the South West Peninsular and South Wales. The Unit moved into the newly built Children’s Hospital on Maudlin St in 2001 with a new theatre complex and an 18 bedded Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. Currently the unit has 3 congenital cardiac surgeons, and a greatly expanded team of cardiac anaesthetists, cardiologists and intensive care and theatre nurses that undertake all forms of cardiac surgery.

Andy and Massimo

An injectable heart valve being prepared which will eventually be built using pioneering 3D technology

Over the last 20 years the speciality has continued to evolve. While the early emphasis of the cardiac unit was to deliver high quality outcomes from the surgeries, the ambitions have widened in scope with a highly successful academic component within the adjacent Bristol Heart Institute. A large program of research and development in both basic science and the clinical research continues along side the clinicians with early application of new techniques. The team is led by Professor Massimo Caputo the British Heart Foundation Professor of Paediatric Surgery. A wide variety of research is being undertaken in all specialities with emphasis on reducing hospital stay through accelerated recovery, development of minimally invasive collaborative surgery and innovations for improving long term/ life long care using stem cell technology.