Former GOSH patient in exhibition celebrating 75 years of the NHS


Paul had lifesaving heart surgery at GOSH when he was eight-years-old. Today, Paul's portrait, taken by photographer Rankin, features alongside those of NHS staff, patients and volunteers in an exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of the NHS. 

The exhibition, ‘Love and Charity: A History of Giving in the NHS’, celebrates the vital role charities have played throughout health service history, and how their contribution has helped make the NHS what it is today.

Paul, a Church Minister and Sound Technician from Leeds features in the exhibition alongside high-profile supporters of the NHS including actor Michael Palin, and footballer Jordan Henderson.

Paul's portrait is on display at the Saatchi Gallery. Copyright Rankin.

Paul’s story

Paul was born with a heart condition called Truncus arteriosus – when there is just one large artery leaving the heart instead of two. This means that too much blood goes to go the lungs and too little oxygenated blood reaches the rest of the body, leading to difficulties breathing.

After his initial diagnosis in 1967, when he was just a few months old, Paul’s local hospital referred him to GOSH. At the time, clinicians could only offer a palliative operation that would help relieve the symptoms of the condition for as long as possible.

Innovative surgery

Eight years later a GOSH surgeon introduced a new operation called the Rastelli Procedure after working with international colleagues. This meant Paul’s condition could now be treated.

Paul is thought to have been one of the first in the UK to have this operation, when he was just eight years old. At the same time as the Rastelli procedure, surgeons also closed a hole in Paul’s heart.

Paul, age eight, one month after his procedure

The operation on Paul’s heart was a success, and his care at GOSH continued until he was 17 years old. During this time, he had further treatment at GOSH, including valve replacement surgery.

I’m so proud to be a part of the NHS’s story and am grateful for the incredible care I received at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Thanks to this, I’m now thought to be one of the eldest survivors of Truncus Arteriosus in the UK.

When I was 17 and about to have my second major operation at GOSH, I felt the enormity of what was about to happen. It felt like a second chance at life, and a chance for me to do my bit in the world.

In my role as a Church Minister, I now support people in the UK as well as overseas. Charitable work has given me my career as well as my life.

Paul, former GOSH patient

Paul presenting on 'Radio GOSH' after his valve replacement surgery when he was 17 years old.

Paul now has treatment at Barts hospital in London. His consultants also work at GOSH and care for children and young people with congenital heart conditions, like Paul’s.

It was a surprise to be chosen by GOSH to represent them, amongst some big names. I’ve not been involved in anything as public as this before. However, I feel it is important to show our pride in our universal health system, and the support its charities give.

It has been fun.


Caring for children with rare cardiac conditions today

GOSH is a specialist centre for many heart conditions which children are born with, also known as congenital conditions. Our cardiac imaging team receive referrals from across the UK and the world.

In the space of 50 years we have gone from offering palliative care for Truncus Arteriosus to being able to diagnose the condition in fetal life and operate within months of being born.

The earlier the diagnosis, the sooner we can start providing the best possible care for children with rare heart conditions.

Emma Carter, Senior Chief Cardiac Physiologist – Specialty Lead

If diagnosed, the mum is referred for a more detailed cardiac scan at a specialist centre such as GOSH.

Once the child is born, the GOSH clinical physiology team helps support children with their conditions. They perform ultrasound scans of the heart, known as echocardiography, which allow them to visualise the structure of the heart in incredible detail and understand what surgery would best help a treat the condition.

Extensive imaging of the heart is also taken ahead of surgery, including 3D imaging to visualise the structure of the heart. This technique is beginning to be being introduced during surgery too, so that the teams have the most detailed images throughout the procedure.

After surgical repair these imaging techniques are used, and patients, like Paul, are followed up throughout their life to help better understand how their heart changes over time and improve surgical outcomes for future children.

Visiting the exhibition

‘Love and Charity: A History of Giving in the NHS’ has been led by NHS Charities Together in collaboration with photographer Rankin.

It is on display at the Saatchi Gallery in London and is free to visit between 31st May – 11th June. Find out more about visiting the exhibition here.

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