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UWI scores big with heart surgery simulator

Top US hospitals request prototype, says Prof Shirley

BY LUKE DOUGLAS Observer senior reporter douglasl@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 27, 2012    

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THE cardiac surgery simulator (CSS), a device developed at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and used to train students in doing heart surgery, has generated interest from some of the leading hospitals in the United States.

The revelation was made last Friday by UWI Mona principal Professor Gordon Shirley who said that the CSS has the potential to change how heart disease is managed in the developing world.

According to Professor Shirley, the University of North Carolina, Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, the University of Washington, Stanford University and the University of Southern California, have all requested prototypes of the CSS, which was developed by UWI-trained surgeon Dr Paul Ramphal and computer scientist Dr Daniel Coore.

"All of a sudden, all of the top schools have asked us for a prototype," Prof Shirley said of the invention. He was speaking at the first quarterly luncheon of the year of the Jamaica Institution of Engineers (JIE) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.


Prof Shirley explained that the CSS uses a computer to pump synthetic blood around an artificial heart. The heart can be altered to simulate certain cardiac conditions.

The CSS allows medical students to practice on artificial hearts instead of real cardiac patients.

"This is a fabulous way to get students to train and become experts before they actually do the surgery," Prof Shirley noted.

The UWI principal indicated that the CSS had the potential to train cardiac surgeons initially in North America and later all over the world.

"There are no cardiac surgeons in most of the developing world, yet the truth is that cardiac failure occurs just as frequently in the developing world as in the developed world. We think that this is going to be a very important device in ensuring that cardiovascular disease is managed just as efficiently and effectively all across the developing world," he said.

Prof Shirley, whose first degree was in mechanical engineering from the UWI's St Augustine campus in Trinidad and Tobago, also told his audience that the Mona campus was expanding its offerings in engineering.

He said this was important as there is a strong correlation between the training of engineers and the growth of a country's economy.

The principal called for greater collaboration between the UWI and the JIE in training and mentoring of engineers graduating from the university

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