Harefield Hospital has featured in a popular Channel 5 TV programme that looks at how medical supplies are shipped across Europe: Inside DHL: The World’s biggest delivery company. The programme follows Harefield patient 30-year-old Enzo, who needs an aortic valve replacement, and the life-changing surgery he receives from a team led by Mr Toufan Bahrami, consultant cardiac surgeon.
The programme follows Enzo as he undergoes minimally invasive valve surgery. His valve is replaced through a small incision in the middle of his chest and with a bovine resilia valve made with tissue — from a cow. The team at Harefield Hospital was one of the first in the world to implant this type of valve. It fits neatly into the aorta in the same place as the damaged valve so does not need to be stitched into place — allowing for a faster recovery time. The new valve is designed to provide younger, active patients with an alternative option to mechanical valves that can last up to 30 years and does not require life-long anticoagulation with blood thinners.
The replacement valves are sourced from over 350 miles away in the Netherlands. As the valves are made from animal tissue, they are extremely temperature sensitive and must be monitored rigorously throughout the journey. The Channel 5 programme follows the 18- hour journey from Eindhoven to Heathrow via Brussels and Calais, and then to Harefield Hospital where they arrive into the safe hands of Mr Bahrami.
Commenting on the procedure, Mr Bahrami said: “As one of Europe’s leading specialist centres for the treatment of heart valve disease we offer some of the most pioneering innovation in minimally invasive surgery. This new valve is a game-changer and is ideal for young patients just like Enzo who need an aortic valve replacement.”
Five months after his surgery, Enzo is fully recovered. Talking about his surgery he says: “My life has been changed. The surgeon is obviously the main person but you’ve also got to think about the person who has invented the product, the person who has delivered it. There are so many people involved for me just to get better. I can’t thank them enough. I’m so grateful.”
Harefield Hospital has been at the forefront of minimally invasive cardiac surgery including aortic and mitral valve repair and replacement, and bypass surgery. More than 3000 procedures have been performed at the hospital through keyhole surgery since 2000.