Professor Damien Kenny, MD, FACC, FSCAI, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, has said that Ireland is leading the way and has firmly placed itself on the international stage, when it comes to medical innovations and technology in cardiology. His smallest patient this year has been less than 1.5kgs and he is involved in researching paediatric cardiology.
“I went to university in UCD and then trained in paediatric cardiology in Bristol,” Prof Damien Kenny said. “I did my MD thesis there studying hypertension, following coarctation of the aorta repair. I subsequently spent five years working in Chicago. Congenital cardiology is my field. My main focus is on interventional therapy, which involves keyhole surgeries or less invasive therapies to treat congenital heart disease. It’s a fascinating field. This year, the smallest patient we have intervened on has been less than 1.5kgs.
“What I like the most about my job is that I’m constantly challenged by it. I like working directly with patients. I enjoy the atmosphere in Crumlin. The team is amazing and we work together in a very cohesive manner and achieve a lot with limited resources. We are very supportive of each other and I think that filters down to the treatment, care and outcomes we achieve in the cardiology department
“Ireland is at the forefront of new medical innovations and technologies. One of the areas we’re currently researching in paediatric cardiology is stents designed specifically for children. Most stents are made of metal, which obviously doesn’t grow, so you have a limited ability to be able to stretch the stents to a maximum diameter. We are trying to develop stents that potentially grow with the child. We are still in the development stages of this technology. We are testing bioresorbable materials that will dissolve as the patient grows and allow, hopefully, normal function of the artery to resume in the child. We’ve worked with a company in the US to develop a bioresorbable stent for children and we’ve done extensive pre-clinical testing with a view to bringing it to market in the future.
“We’re also working on a valve with growth potential for patients with valve disease, who would need to have their valves replaced. This procedure generally requires open heart surgery. We’re looking at using bioresorbable stents and stitching a valve inside with a particular material that will allow the patient’s own cells to either be seeded, so that over time, while the scaffold is absorbed in the body, the leaflets are covered with the patient’s own natural tissue. We’re working with colleagues in Bristol on this collaboration. We’re also collaborating with UCD looking at 3D printed valves, so that we can look at the specific anatomy and then generate a 3D valve that will grow with the patient – hopefully without the need for open heart surgery. I am hopeful we would be able to bring to to patients potentially in the next 10 years.
“I’ve seen the benefits from the funding CMRF has provided in a number of ways. The collaboration with UCD is funded in part by CMRF. We also have another project looking at the potential avoidance of surgery for pulmonary valve replacement thanks to CMRF funding. We recently performed some live cases for an international congress in Frankfurt. A live case is the live streaming of surgery with potentially a global audience. It provides immeasurable educational benefits through watching and learning. We performed three live cases and we wouldn’t have been able to proceed without the support of CMRF. Because the visual is such a huge part of the learning process, and because the technology is advancing at such a rapid rate, it’s great to see that Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, through the funding provided by CMRF, is at the forefront of these developments.
“It’s a hugely beneficial learning platform for attendees because they can integrate the new procedures we are developing into their own practice. The cases went extremely well with very positive feedback from attendees. It’s great to hear people praising the unit after the huge effort the extended team put in every single day in Crumlin. We feel now that our techniques and outcomes are as good as anywhere else in the world. One of the major limitations holding us back from developing our unit further into a truly recognised international centre of excellence is lack of funding. Twenty years ago we were sending patients abroad for complex surgeries, but now, we’re really leading the charge with new and innovative technologies and approaches. We are moving from a point where we didn’t have this type of technology and expertise in Ireland. Now, not only do we have it, we’re able to share it with our colleagues globally. CMRF have been vital in making this all happen.”