Date Published: 16-Jun-2011
The Irish healthcare system, in spite of its well documented shortcomings, has a human side that is lacking in many other health systems in the world, according to cardiothoracic surgeon Mark da Costa.
Singapore born Mark, who specialises in heart and lung operations and is Lead Surgeon at UHG, recalls an occasion a couple of years ago when he removed a tumour from a patient’s lungs. For Mark, it was a routine operation. But afterwards the man’s wife gave the surgeon a big hug “and thanked me for saving her husband’s life”, he says.
It’s not every surgeon you could imagine giving a hug to, but Mark da Costa is one of them and patients express their gratitude in different ways.
Inverin woman Ursula Murry didn’t give Mark or the staff in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit a hug after her major surgery – instead the artist donated a painting, which has now gone on display in the Unit.
She is one of 200 patients who had cardiac surgery at UHG last year under the care of Mark and fellow surgeon Dave Verassingham who also operates on patients with thoracic problems.
It’s a far cry from the situation that existed a few years ago when the West of Ireland’s main hospital didn’t have a facility for performing heart and lung surgery.
After years of public campaigning, spearheaded by the West of Ireland Cardiology Foundation, Croí, and cardiologist Kieran Daly, the €20m facility was built and the hospital advertised for a lead surgeon. Mark applied and took up the post in October 2006, carrying out the unit’s first major bypass in May of 2007.
Mark recalls every detail about Ursula Murry’s condition and admires the way she and her family coped with her illness. Her determination to return to college to complete her art degree illustrated her great strength, he feels. And now, the hospital has one of her works.
“At one stage she said to me ‘I did a painting based on my experience’.
“I can’t think of a nicer way to express yourself,” he observes. “It was a hard journey for her, but to see her so well now and to have that painting . . . there are some things you cannot describe.”
It has now been placed in front of the nurses’ station on the ward and has joined two other paintings which the staff received from other artists.
While the country’s financial problems are affecting the Cardiothoracic Unit, with bed closures and staff being lost, including an ICU bed last year, Mark points out that “these are the
best staff that I have ever worked with. They are kind and caring, and that’s on top of the professional side of things”.
He makes that observation in light of his experience training and working in other places, which is pretty extensive.
Mark came to Ireland at 18 to study medicine in Dublin where he did most of his vascular surgical and cardiothoracic training. He completed his cardiothoracic residency in the US and then spent five years working as Associate Professor of Surgery and Consultant Cardiovascular and Cardiothoracic Surgeon in Singapore, where his work also included teaching.
His father was a respiratory physician and initially that was what Mark wanted to do. But he excelled in surgery, winning the gold medal in his final year. He didn’t do so well in medicine and felt that since the signs were pointing that way, surgery was the path he should follow.
In retrospect he is glad, saying his results and his personality were more suited to surgery.
“Although medicine is very interesting and you have to be like a detective, working to figure all the clues [about a patient’s condition] it can also be quite tedious and I am not the most patient person in the world.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Judge adjourns Connemara assault case
Date Published: 08-May-2013
A date will be set next October for the trial of a 52-year old Connemara man, who is charged with assaulting traditional Irish musician Noel Hill five years ago.
Michael Folan from Teach Mór, Lettermullen, is charged with intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to Noel Hill at Tí Padraig Mairtín Beag in Leitir Mór, on St Stephen’s Day, 2008.
The matter had been listed for trial on several occasions before Galway Circuit Criminal Court in the intervening period.
It was referred to the High Court in Dublin last year for judicial review after Michael Folan said he wanted his trial heard ‘as Gaeilge’and that a bi-lingual jury be made available to hear the case.
At Galway Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Rory McCabe adjourned the case for mention to October when it’s expected a date will be set for trial.
Bank of Ireland Galway Shopping Centre branch to close
Date Published: 10-May-2013
Bank of Ireland’s branch at Galway Shopping Centre on the Headford Road is to close in July.
The branch is to merge into the BOI outlet at Galway Industrial Estate in Mervue.
Galway Bay fm news reports the 14 staff impacted are to be offered redeployment and there will be no job losses.
Galway RNLI rescues three people stranded on Hare Island
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Galway RNLI Lifeboat has come to the rescue of three students who got stranded on Hare Island after getting caught in the tide off Ballyloughan Beach.
The two girls and boy, in their late teens had gone for a walk and were spotted waving from the island by a local resident who contacted the emergency Services and Galway Lifeboat.
Conditions at the time (4pm) were very changeable with heavy showers.
Three members of the Lifeboat shore crew were working in the vicinity of the station at the time and launched the boat in six minutes.
The three students were picked up safely and brought back to the Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks where they were warmed up and given tea and did not require medical attention.