Attilio’s story: Being welcomed into the Alder Hey family
In November 2015, I began my role as cardiac surgeon at Alder Hey and I’ve been welcomed by an incredible team. Their level of dedication and commitment are just two of the reasons why I took the opportunity to be part of Alder Hey. The prospect of working in a brand new, state of the art children hospital was also a pull for me.
I graduated from the University of Milan in Italy and over the years I’ve had the privilege of working in top national and international organisations in both a surgical and research capacity. My wealth of experience includes time on the National Paediatric Cardiac Training programme before been appointed consultant in 2010 at the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre, where I subsequently became Director of Research and Clinical Lead for cardiac surgery.
As well as a passion for cardiac surgery, I also champion the importance of research. Over the years I’ve encouraged young patients and parents to get involved with research by reading up on new studies and allowing them to offer their opinions which could help shape future work. Their participation has helped them to understand more about cardiac research and the benefit of participating into research trials. I’m looking forward to setting up a similar group here at Alder Hey.
There is a huge amount of knowledge that can be obtained through research. Here at Alder Hey we now have the new research, education and innovation facility ‘Institute in the Park’ which will provide the Trust with even more opportunities to benefit more young patients and those treating them.
I have observed how Alder Hey involves young people in various aspects. Even at my job interview, I was asked questions by members of the Children and Young People’s Forum. I was impressed how they cared about who works for Alder Hey. A strong sense of ownership at Alder Hey and ultimately we all work here for them, the children.
Another aspect to my role which I love is teaching and training. In my previous post I was the Training Programme Director for cardiac surgery and I am familiar with the problems related to organize and deliver training in a critical specialty as cardiac surgery. It’s vital that organisations like Alder Hey continue to prioritise teaching and training for the next generation.
We have a fantastic cardiac team here from the people who liaise with families and keep us surgeons organised, the cardiac theatre and ward staff. I’m one of three cardiac surgeons who all have different interests surrounding cardiac diseases and their treatment. This provides Alder Hey with a great opportunity to utilise all our strengths and continue to expand our cardiac surgery programme.
My own special interest is around body perfusion on the heart lung machine during cardiac operations and the role kidneys play in response to an operation. I also developed a special interest in ECMO support, a lifesaving machine available here at Alder Hey and its application in cardiac resuscitation.
I think it’s important that our cardiac patients, from those only hours old to teenagers, have the best environment possible during treatment. Thanks to charitable funds we have shaped a better environment with large en-suite bedrooms, settee beds for parents, critical care cots, new theatre equipment and more which is all paramount to providing the best for those in our care. A comfortable environment can help towards recovery too.
I love the new hospital building which was a factor in me moving to Liverpool for my new challenge. I’d say my favourite part is the entrance which distracts your eyes with so much like the bird sculpture for example. It doesn’t look like a hospital which is exciting for the kids who I’ve heard some compare it to an airport!
There is a strong sense of family here at Alder Hey and I’m proud to already feel part of it. As a centre of excellence for cardiac surgery we have an important role ahead to ensure we continue to improve the lives of those living with a heart condition. It’s those children who inspire me and my colleagues to give everything we have to what we do.