How would you like the surgeon that operates on your baby’s heart to be? One who puts his patient first and uses all the tools available to achieve the best possible outcome. Martin Elliott is all this and more: he got some of the tools he didn’t have… By creating them.
Professor Martin Elliott graduated at the Newcastle University, in 1973. He then went on to take his doctorate, with a thesis about metabolic response to open heart surgery. Professor Elliott was appointed a consultant paediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), in 1984, and worked there just until last year. He was also a medical director at this hospital, one of the top childrens’ hospitals in the world. In the same hospital he directed The National Centre for Serious Tracheal Disease in Children, one of the issues he has been interested in investigating in the last few years. He has also held the post of Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University College London, since 2005. In 2014, he was appointed Gresham Professor of Physic at Gresham College. In this context, he delivers series of free public lectures on The Heart of the Matter, “to explore […] the challenging medical, ethical, financial and political issues of our time.”
Professor Elliott is passionate about keeping the patient safe and optimising outcomes. This has made him pay attention both to ethics and science of the job and to work in three levels. The first level is the surgical procedure itself and he worked on having available cutting edge techniques: he helped set up thoracic transplantation at GOSH, and developed new techniques, such as the modified ultrafiltration (still used in cardiac bypass surgery these days), and, more recently, he was involved in a research project that led to the first stem-cell supported tracheal transplant in a child and to the expansion of research in tracheal tissue engineering. The second level is keeping the patient alive after surgery and, for this, he worked with Formula 1 pit stop teams to develop teamwork within the surgical staff in order to allow the best post-surgery support treatment possible and to guarantee the best possible outcome. The third level is ethics. Led by the need for transparency in outcomes, he started the European Congenital Heart Defects Database for outcomes analysis (now the EACTS database), and led the Quality and Safety Team at GOSH for many years.