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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The story of an engineer who fixed his own heart and other too

Tal Golesworthy on how he engineered a solution to treat his heart condition


As an engineer, Tal Golesworthy is no stranger to taking things apart, figuring out what the trouble is and putting them back together with the problem solved.
 
But for more than 30 years, he lived with a life-threatening issue that was less easy to fix.
That is, until he took an idea from the garden, combined it with some basic procedures borrowed from the aeronautical industry and came up with a "beautifully simple" solution to treat his own heart condition.
He then managed to convince surgeons to put it into him.
And nine years since his operation, he has managed to help over 30 people with similar conditions.
Andrew Ellis, a keen footballer, has benefited from Mr Golesworthy's inventiveness.
At just 27 years old, Mr Ellis said it was daunting to put himself through an experimental medical procedure experienced by so few, but he was glad he did.
Five years after his surgery, he remains fit and healthy and "feels like someone without a heart condition".
Mr Golesworthy is now calling on surgeons across Europe to start a trial and test his device against more conventional therapy.
Like Mr Ellis, Tal Golesworthy has Marfan syndrome - a disorder in which the body's connective tissues are faulty. These tissues normally act as scaffolding for the major organs, ensuring they are kept in shape and in place.
But people with severe forms of the syndrome can have problems with their eyes, joints and particularly their hearts.
As the heart pumps blood around the body, the aorta - the main vessel from the heart - stretches to accommodate the blood-flow. In most people it relaxes back to normal size, but for people with Marfan syndrome it can fail to recover, gradually enlarging over time.
From an early age, Mr Golesworthy was fully aware he was living with the risk his aorta could one day stretch so much it would burst. And during a regular check-up in 2000, he was told the time had come to consider pre-emptive surgery.
 
 

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