The Cardiac Surgery Department provides care for patients with heart diseases who need an operation. This branch of medicine is highly specialised and requires expert staff. Our department is a pioneer in the Catalan public health system that has grown significantly since it was officially created on 24 January 1972.
Our current catchment area covers over one million people from the north-eastern part of Catalonia, including the counties of Girona and Lleida and the north of the Barcelonès county. This is an extensive geographical area, though its population density is lower than others.
Our activity at the Cardiac Surgery Department has been linked to the history of medicine and, more specifically, to the history of cardiac surgery in Catalonia. The Department's development, then, has been made possible thanks to the advances made in cardiac surgery and cardiology in general. Also relevant here is its expansion, from an initial national health system that developed into the current regional health system, regulated by the Catalan Health Service through the Catalan Health Institute.
The history of our Department dates back to the 1960s, when Dr. Paravisini performed the first surgical operations to repair the mitral valve in the heart, known as "mitral comissurotomies”. The following years saw the beginnings of cardiac surgery using extracorporeal circulation, a technique employed for replacing the heart’s function as a pump and enabling the heart to be stopped and operated on. Surgical operations became standard by the end of the 1970s. It was not until the 80s, however, with the arrival of Dr. Murtra, that there could be said to be a protocol-based programme of operations that produced pioneering results at the time. The number of patients treated has steadily increased: from 400 cases a year using extracorporeal circulation in the 1980s, to 600 at present.
The current catchment area covers over one million people from the north-eastern part of Catalonia, which includes the counties of Girona and Lleida and the north of the Barcelonès county. This is an extensive geographical area, though its population density is lower than others. We created the Multihospital Care Service to provide care for this area.
Resident cardiovascular surgeons and other specialist doctors working as locums for our Department, jointly take part in pre-operative studies with the Department team, both in surgical indications and in surgical procedures, with a varying degree of involvement, depending on their level of training. These doctors join the Post-Operative Cardiac Surgery Unit (UPCC) immediately after cardiac surgery, provide postoperative care on the ward, and take part in monitoring patients through outpatient consultations.
Units making up the Department
- Pacemaker Unit
- Aorta Unit
- Congenital Pathology Unit
- Structural Surgery Unit
- Valvular Surgery
Jordi Fernández, law student and head of the Tívoli Theatre in Barcelona, was born with congenital heart disease. He has been a patient at Hospital Vall d’Hebron his whole life. The hospital is one of the most advanced in Spain in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart disease, thanks to the team in the Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Department, led by Dr. Raúl Abella and Dr. Ferran Rosés i Noguer.
Fermín Fernández Álvarez, Porter Coordinator, explains the importance of the role these professionals play in the hospital. After 36 years at Vall d’Hebron, Fermín is a real master of the ways things are done. He says that a porter has to combine humility, discretion and safety with a single goal: that patients receive human and friendly treatment.
The constant search for excellence is part of Hospital Vall d’Hebron’s nature. The biggest hospital in Catalonia and the leader in many fields, headed since February 2015 by Dr. Vicenç Martínez Ibáñez, who has a close personal and professional relationship with the Hospital. Dr. Martínez Ibáñez says that if Vall d’Hebron did not exist, it would need to be invented. The current director trained at the hospital, where he was one of the protagonists of an historic moment: the first paediatric liver transplant in Spain. Now, he is committed to continuing this legacy and, always putting the patient first, achieving excellence across all staff.
The Neonatology Department’s Sibling Project is a workshop for the siblings of new-born babies admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit in the Vall d’Hebron Maternity and Children's Hospital. Through simulated games and situations, the project prepares them to get used to seeing their younger siblings in a hospital medical setting.
Vall d’Hebron University Hospital’s kitchen serves more than 1,000 meals a day, twice a day, not counting breakfast. A reality that José Parrilla and Carmina Esteban know all too well.From three kitchens to one and from coal to gas. That is how the hospital’s catering service has evolved. A place where the needs of each patient must be taken into account and where there is room for small, juicy anecdotes.
The former head of the Thoracic Surgery Department, Dr. Mercè Canela, recently retired, recalls the important evolution of the Department to become a leader in Spain and a lung transplant pioneer. A task made possible thanks to collaboration with professionals from other departments, an added value in the personal and team environment.
Rosalia Moure arrived at Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in 1967. She spent her entire working life in the linen and laundry department of the Hospital. Rosalia Moure has witnessed the Hospital’s big transformations, from dictatorship to democracy and from analogue to digital systems.
Dr. Josep Sánchez de Toledo Codina, head of the Paediatric Haematology and Oncology Department, tells us about a Department that has laid the foundations for the specialism in Spain. He also remembers the evolution of transplants from haematopoietic stem cells and progenitors, from the beginning, buying the material at a shop in Barcelona city centre, to the more than 1,200 transplants that have now been performed.