The Baird Institute’s Christmas

“Cocktails and Conversation”

was held on

Thursday 30 November,  2017 at the Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel.

(Left to right)  Monica Attard,  Rodney Merrett, Norman Kroehnert, Jo Dean and brothers Jake & Jason Rance, explaining what applied heart research has meant for them, their families and the wider community.

Patients of  surgeons associated with The Baird Institute, were interviewed by award winning ABC journalist Monica Attard in regards to their experience with heart surgeryThese patients are the representation of a much larger cohort, benefiting from the generosity of donors, funding research being carried out by The Baird Institute.

Brothers, Jake and Jason Rance both had an aortic root repair after it was discovered, following the death of their mother from an aortic dissection, that they both had familial “Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Disease”. Their open heart surgery was performed by Professor Paul Bannon, Chair of The Baird Institute, in 2017Jo Dean had Robotic heart bypass surgery with Professor Michael Wilson, also in 2017. Jo first discovered she had “Coronary Artery Disease” earlier this year after experiencing chest pains on her regular ride to work.  Rod Merrett was the first person in NSW to have had open heart surgery using the new American heart-lung machine.  Rod was operated on at RPA Hospital in 1957 by visiting surgeons from Johns Hopkins Hospital in the USA, he was only 9 years of age and remained in hospital for 6 weeks following his open heart surgery. Norman Kroehnert had a chest re-opening earlier this year after having suffered a heart attack whilst at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. He was the first recipient of a chest reopening by participants of the CALS (Cardiac Advanced Life Support) course run at RPAH and it was an outstanding success –  he lives to tell his story.

At “Cocktails and Conversation” we were able to highlight just how far heart surgery has come from the time Rod had open heart surgery in 1957 to when Jo had her robotic bypass surgery in 2017 – 60 years later.  Jo remained in hospital for just 6 days while Rod’s stay in hospital lasted for 6 weeks.  This difference in the recovery period for patients undergoing robotic heart surgery means so much more than time; it means far less chance of complications, a faster recovery and return to work, not to mention an excellent cosmetic result.  It is an entirely different world these days! The positive impact this minimally invasive surgery has on working parents, their children, employers and hospitals is enormous.   What was once the subject of movies and fantasy is now an everyday reality in tertiary care facilities such as the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital!

Following the discussion, Professor Paul Bannon thanked the panel and explained the importance of the research work that The Baird Institute is involved in as well as the need for industry contributions for PHD research salaries in order to further the Institute’s research capabilities.

Our Director, Michelle Sloane, paid tribute to Natalie Zugec one of our super community fundraisers who has raised almost $100,000 for applied heart research at The Baird Institute with the help of her sister, Pamela.  Natalie was presented with a beautiful bunch of flowers.

The night ended with a drawing of the raffle by Philippa Baird, wife of the late Professor Doug Baird. Thank you to Carol Radford, one of our dedicated supporters, for her donation of a wonderful Christmas cake and to Camelbak for their donation of various drink bottles and hydration packs.

Click on all images to enlarge
(Top row, left to right) Jo Dean with brothers, Jake and Jason Rance. (Bottom row  left to right) Rodney Merrett, Norman Kroehnert with Prof Paul Bannon.
Professor Paul Bannon thanked the panel.

Natalie Zugec (left) with The Baird Institute Director, Michelle Sloane,

Raffle winner and one of our many important donors, Carol Radford.
The staff of The Baird Institute; (left to right) Maureen Winn, Sue Moore, Michelle Sloane, Lisa Turner, Catherine Rush & Lorna Beattie. 
We would like to thank all of our supporters for their help in 2017 and we look forward to another successful year ahead where, with your help, we will continue to foster, fund and promote cardiothoracic research in medical undergraduates, graduates and our own surgeons. 
Jo Dean had Robotic Heart Bypass surgery with Prof. Michael Wilson in 2017.
Attendees at the event.
Rod Merrett was the first person in NSW to have Open Heart Surgery (RPA 1957).
Rod Merrett with his sister, Judy Spence & brother in law, Sean Spence.
The Baird Institute Director, Michelle Sloane.
Attendees at the event.