The Heart-Lung Bypass Machine Appeal

This festive season, please help The Alfred buy a new Heart-Lung Bypass Machine. Your donation will help give more desperately ill heart patients the surgery they need to survive.

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Peter Leeton and his wife Lisa arrived at The Alfred at two thirty in the morning. The surgical team was ready and Peter was about to have the most important operation of his life. 

“The operation required was unbelievably complex – The Alfred was the only place in Australia that could do it,” says Peter. “I doubt I would be here today if they didn’t, it’s as simple as that.”

The Alfred is world-renowned for our expertise in treating the most complex heart problems. More people need our help than ever before, and we want those people to benefit from this amazing service. But we can’t do it without your help. Your donation will help us buy a new Heart-Lung Bypass Machine so we can save the lives of even more seriously ill patients, patients like Peter. This machine is needed every time complex cardiac surgery is performed.

Peter Leeton was born with a serious heart disease.

He grew up physically thin, had blue lips and nails and was always short of breath. But it wasn’t until 2011, when he came down with a seemingly minor infection, that his health really started to deteriorate. He recently told us:

“My GP said if you don’t get yourself into a hospital I’m going to ring an ambulance. Within 48 hours I was in intensive care and I’d suffered multiple organ failure. I managed to live through it, but from then onwards things went downhill.”

The only way to save Peter’s life was to have a heart-lung transplant at The Alfred. But this was a big decision for Peter and his family:

“Lisa and I have two young girls to think about, and we knew it was going to be a very complex operation. But I knew I only had a few years left.”

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During Peter’s operation, one of The Alfred’s existing Heart-Lung Bypass Machines allowed oxygenated blood to flow through his body, keeping him alive, while our specialists replaced his unhealthy lungs and heart with healthy ones.

Professor David McGiffin, Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery, was Peter’s surgeon. He recalls:

“Peter’s surgery was extremely complex. He had hundreds of blood vessels coming from his systemic circulation, and each blood vessel had lots of tiny branches – they had been developing throughout his whole life. Every one of those branches had to be dealt with before his new heart and lungs could be implanted.”

Professor McGiffin adds: “A Heart-Lung Bypass Machine is a fundamental component of all complex cardiac surgery, including open-heart and transplant surgery. We wouldn’t be able to do these procedures without it. And we need another machine so we can help more people.”

Peter knew the operation had worked when he woke up at The Alfred and, for the first time in his life, noticed his fingernails were pink:

“That’s when it hit home, I’d never had pink fingernails before. It was amazing.”

Peter told us he was deeply impressed by the depth of expertise shown by the Alfred staff:

“They were all experts at what they do, top of their field. They weren’t called in from somewhere else, they were just down the corridor. It’s just amazing.

“And they made me feel I wasn’t just in there for an operation – it was everything – before, during and after. It was the surgeons, the physicians, the dietitians, the physios, the social workers, all these people, all working together as a fantastic team.”

Your support at this special time of the year will benefit so many. You will be helping return patients back to their loved ones in good health, as soon as possible.

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As Peter himself said to us: “It’s definitely about getting patients back to their loved ones, but it’s a bit more than that. It’s about getting them to a higher level than they were previously.

“When I drive the girls to school now, we park the car, and start walking to the gate. And we walk past this spot where I always used to have to take a rest, because I was so out of breath. But now, I have no need. And I just think how amazing that really is. My family couldn’t be happier.”

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Your support towards a new Heart-Lung Bypass Machine will help heal more very sick people like Peter, who entrust us with their lives. And it is the support of you, and people like you, that enables us to treat the most complex and delicate cases. Thank you so much for all your help and consideration.

The Heart-Lung Bypass Machine

s5 DetA Heart-Lung Bypass Machine is a vital part of virtually all heart surgery, including: coronary artery bypass surgery, heart valve surgery and also more complex procedures, such as Peter’s heart-lung transplant.

The amazing machine works by acting as the patient’s heart and lungs during their surgery – adding oxygen to and removing carbon dioxide from the blood, and then pumping it around the body. It does nothing less than maintain a patient’s life during their operation.

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Professor McGiffin, our Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery, recently said:
“We do very challenging operations and we deal with very challenging patients – patients with end-stage heart and lung disease. We can produce fantastic results for these very ill people. A new Heart-Lung Bypass Machine will help us save even more lives.”

This festive season, please support The Alfred and help buy a new Heart-Lung Bypass Machine so we can give more desperately ill heart patients the surgery they need to survive.