A day in the life of…the Lincolnshire Heart Centre

The Lincolnshire Heart Centre recently inserted its 100th complex device into a patient. Communications Officer Zoe Leahy had the privilege of being in the cath lab as the procedure took place. 

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The Lincolnshire Heart Centre recently inserted its 100th complex device into a patient. Communications Officer Zoe Leahy had the privilege of being in the cath lab as the procedure took place.

I have previously written press releases and shared information about the brilliant work of the Lincolnshire Heart Centre. I have met members of the team, visited the centre numerous times and spoken to patients who have the centre to thank for saving their life.

The work that goes on behind the big red double doors next to Lincoln A&E is simply amazing and quite often staff literally hold a patient’s life in their hands. This is why I felt so inspired, excited and humbled to be invited into the cath lab to watch as Dr David Morgan and the team performed their 100th implantation of a complex device.

Patients needing cardiac resynchronisation therapy devices (CRT) or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) previously had to travel outside of the county for the procedures. However, for the last nine months the team at the heart centre have been carrying out these procedures.

The first type sends tiny electrical pulses to the lower chambers of the heart to make them beat in a more synchronised pattern. This improves the organ’s ability to pump blood and oxygen to the body. The second one with defibrillation therapy has the ability to detect and treat dangerously fast heart rhythms by shocking the heart.

I have previously visited the cath labs at the centre, but had never stepped behind the glass screens. To be invited to cross over to the other side and knowing that a patient had given their consent for me to be there, in what must have been a worrying and anxious time for them, really was a humbling experience and I appreciated how fortunate I was to be there.

As I got changed into my scrubs, complete with lead apron and other radiation protection, I walked into the lab and was initially surprised by how busy the bright and airy room had become. On this day it was still full of bright lights, but as I looked around the room it was packed with additional equipment, monitors, screens of images and lots of people, all specialists in their own areas.

I tried my hardest to not get in the way, but as many other teams and my colleagues already know, I have this innate ability to always stand in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think I only got told off once for being stood in a restricted area while images were taken of the patient’s heart and the implantation of the device and its wires. That’s pretty good for me and I didn’t make the same mistake again.

I watched in awe as the team took everything in their stride and worked together like a well-oiled machine. Some were helping Dr Morgan with the implantmentation, others were focused more on the images being taken, some were looking at the readings coming back from the new device and at the centre of it all was the patient who was fully aware of everything that was going on around them.

I remember how the atmosphere changed in an instant when it looked like the procedure may not be possible. Despite the room being full, everything stopped and you could have heard a pin drop. I even found myself holding my breath as Dr Morgan used all of his expertise to get the device in place. Once this had happened and everything was back on track the room sprang back into action.

Once the procedure had finished I was able to pop in to the recovery room and had a lovely chat with the patient and Dr Morgan. Within minutes the patient was sat up enjoying a biscuit and a cup of coffee.

For a second I had to wonder if I had I really just seen his heart on the screen as the wires were put in place. He looked so relaxed and relieved to be enjoying a much longed for refreshment. He certainly didn’t look how I would imagine someone who had just had a pacemaker removed and a new one with the addition of a defibrillator fitted.

For the heart centre this was just another day at the office saving and changing lives, but for me it was a massive insight in to how the team works, why it has the glowing reputation that it has and I also got to see and hear the impact that it has on a patient and their life.

Thank you so much to the team for letting me have a small insight into the work that you do and the pride that you all rightly take in your work. We are very lucky as a county to have this centre. I hope that I and those that I love never need to come through those red doors, but if we do there is a lot of comfort in knowing that this team really is among the best in the country and is constantly striving to offer more and more to our patients.

Thank you all for everything that you do (and an even bigger thank you to the patient who allowed me to be present).