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Cardiac surgery was pioneered in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital during the 1950's and shortly afterwards the first successful heart operation was performed. This lead to the formation of the National Cardiac Surgery unit in 1971 in order to provide open heart surgery for patients in the State. It comprises of the centre for Adult Cardio-Thoracic Surgery at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and the Paediatric Cardio-Thoracic Surgery in Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin. Over the past twenty years more than 20,000 patients have benefited from the work done in this unit. These excellent services did not develop overnight.

Here are a few of the highlights - Surgical Achievements of the Unit:

  • 1957: 17th December 1957 first open heart surgery performed by Professor O'Malley
  • 1961: 9th March first operation using heart/lung machine performed by Professor O'Malley
  • 1965: 23rd March first mitral valve replacement operation in the country by Professor O'Malley
  • 1965: 29th March first aortic valve replacement operation in the country by Professor O'Malley
  • 1975: 1st April first coronary artery bypass graft in the country
  • 1983: Mitral reconstruction/repair began in earnest
  • 1983: Successful use of  temporary left ventricle device
  • 1984: Use of  left internal mammary graft began
  • 1985: 10th September first heart transplant in the country
  • 1990: Use of fresh homograft aortic valve began
  • 1991: Video assisted thoracic surgery introduced
  • 1993: National homograft heart valve bank set up between staff of unit and the Blood Transfusion Service Board
  • 1994: First ross operation performed successfully
  • 2002: Cox maze procedure introduced
  • 2004: Lung transplantation
  • 2005: Artificial heart programme
  • 2005: 1st May first artificial heart implantation in the country
  • 2005: 11th May first lung transplant in the country
  • 2005: Endovascular stenting of type III thoracic aortic aneurysms in association with the Mater department of Cardiology

Since the inception of the service the Mater Hospital Cardio-Thoracic Surgical unit has always been responsible for the training of NCHD staff through to consultant level. Many consultant cardio-thoracic surgeons working in this country have trained in the unit and many more are working abroad in this field. The National Directorate of the Surgical Training Programme is based here. Consultants trained in this unit are now working in the United States, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Sudan, India, Oman, West Indies, Nigeria and Pakistan.

On 8th May 2002, the National Cardio-Thoracic Surgery unit was formally dedicated to its founder Professor Eoin O'Malley. In recognition of the occasion An Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern attended the celebrations. Many of Professor O'Malley's colleagues who had retired from the Mater returned to witness the unveiling of a plaque in his honour.

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