I have had such an exciting and uplifting weekend that I simply had to share my news and enthusiasm with you. Sometimes you just cannot beat being a doctor! This weekend was a historic one because we implanted the very first LINX reflux device in the UK into a patient, Lewis Tyler, who has been an acid reflux sufferer for many years. This procedure was carried out via our sister company; The Reflux Centre (linxrefluxsurgery.com)
It’s a long hard slog getting a new device accepted by all the relevant bodies and it is seemingly only when you are on the cusp of despair that the final approval is given and you are ready to proceed. The week before our first implantation had been such a roller-coaster ride. It was, therefore, with a feeling of residual anxiety that I set off from Birmingham at 6 a.m. to Manchester last Saturday. It was a beautiful early morning drive with the northbound side of the motorway deserted as a steady stream of Man Utd and Man City fans heading south to Wembley for the Cup Semi-Final. Arriving at the Spire Hospital, all was calm. I changed into theatre blues and went to see how Professor Franco Favretti was getting on with his first two cases. As ever, Dr Gianni Segato was with him in the operating theatre and a prompt start meant the first two gastric band operations had been completed before ten o’clock. It was time for LINX. The theatre swelled with interested parties. Brent from Torax (the LINX device manufacturing company) had flown over from Minnesota, USA to watch over proceedings. The UK Torax directors were present as were members of Healthier Weight including Martyn Berrett our MD, a member of the Spire Medical Advisory Committee and several others. So, no pressure then Franco!
If you ever wanted a demonstration in how to perform a new operation, ask Franco Favretti. It was like watching a surgical Masterclass, not a UK first. Franco had been warned that even though he has done 5,000 gastric band operations, he might find the LINX device tricky because the fastening was a little more intricate. However, rather than taking longer, it took just the same amount of time to do this operation as a traditional gastric band. “In a couple of weeks, we’ll be doing this in twenty minutes” said Franco. I could see that he was pleased. I could have hugged him! What a surgeon! Even the other surgeons present were impressed. There was a real buzz in the theatre that all had gone well but now for the next crucial step – how was the patient?
When I next saw Lewis he was sitting up in bed sipping some water. I saw him again in the evening and he was eating his dinner. The next morning he was eating his breakfast. Franco joked that if he carried on eating like this he would need a gastric band. Lewis said he was feeling marvellous, which was music to our ears. It’s a long road ahead - we shall be monitoring Lewis’ progress (and all subsequent patients) in a European Registry but for now, I’m just going to enjoy the fact that the very first Linx patient in the UK had an operation that can be described with a surgeon’s favourite word - “uneventful”.
Dr David Ashton
19th April 2011