The Durdans Heart Centre celebrates 20 years of cardiac care in January 2019. It has become a trusted centre for cardiac care and is home to many leading cardiac specialists in the country. Having opened its doors for cardiac care in 1999, Durdans Heart Centre was one of the foremost initiatives to establish a dedicated Heart Centre concept in Sri Lanka and soon became a centre of excellence in cardiac care.
Dr Harsha Baranage, Director Medical Services at Durdans Hospital says, “We are proud to be the most recognised Heart Centre in Sri Lanka which has performed over 12,000 surgical procedures and the feedback we receive from cardiac patients is testament to the patient care we have become renowned for in Sri Lanka.”
Going back to 1994, it was Dr W. S. Shantharaj and Dr Neomali Amarasena who began cardiac consultations at Durdans Heart Centre. Dr Neomali Amarasena, Consultant Cardiologist said, “In the beginning the set up was quite different. There was a very basic echocardiogram machine, the general ICU and no dedicated coronary care unit.”
The idea for a dedicated Heart Centre was conceived in 1995/1996 (FY) and the necessary infrastructure for a dedicated Heart Centre was constructed in 1997. Meanwhile, nurses were deployed for training through a strategic alliance with a renowned Heart Institute and Research Centre in Asia that was based in North India, to propel the Durdans Heart Centre to an international level. Through this same alliance, technical input was also obtained. Matron Thilaka Sumanasekara who has been at the Durdans Heart Centre even before the launch said “We got an extensive training in cardiac units, theatre and ICUs.”
Two years later, in 1999, commercial operations commenced at the Durdans Heart Centre, particularly in the two areas known as Heart Command Centre and Heart Station. The former was a coronary care unit while the latter was a dedicated centre for performing all non-invasive cardiac investigations, respectively. Heart Station today, has the largest area in the private sector for cardiac care including a fleet of top end echocardiograms, exercise ECGs, cardiologists’ consultation rooms, holter monitoring and lung function machine.
Dr Vinitha Perera, Consultant Physician who dedicates her time to critical care at Durdans Heart Centre has fond memories of the launch in 1999. She said, “The much needed unit– Heart Command Centre, probably the largest coronary care unit in Sri Lanka, was declared open in a simple ceremony and a proud moment it was”. The experience and clinical judgment of multidisciplinary specialists of her caliber are instrumental in the delivery of superior after-care to cardiac patients at Durdans Heart Centre.
Subsequently, in the year 2000 the set-up for cardiac surgical procedures was established comprising of a cardiac theatre and a cardiac ICU. In addition, a catheterisation laboratory was also built to perform all invasive and interventional procedures. A three year-long surgical nursing care training for bypass surgical procedures was conducted by a nurse from Cardiff University Hospital in the UK. As a gesture of goodwill and in honour of commencing the then Durdans Heart Surgical Centre, two paediatric cardiac cases and five bypass surgical procedures were performed free of charge.
Dr Nihal Kulathilake Consultant Cardiac surgeon was the first to perform cardiac surgery at Durdans Heart Centre. Dr Kulathilake said, “I set out from the UK to re-define cardiac surgery in Sri Lanka. Together with the management we pursued excellence by elevating standards to be on par with international levels.”
Later, the centre progressed from surgical procedures on heart lung machine to beating heart surgery (off pump). Soon Durdans Heart Centre rose to become a centre of excellence in the country. The largest number of beating heart surgical procedures performed in Sri Lanka were at Durdans Heart Centre. In 2016, minimally invasive instruments for Coronary Arterial Bypass Grafting (CABG) and valve surgery were introduced. Today Durdans Heart Centre continues to perform miracles every day, undertaking challenging and complex cases with confidence.
Mr Ajith E. Tudawe, Chairman of Durdans Hospital says, “From the beginning, the idea was to have world class cardiac care right here in Sri Lanka at a time that heart patients were resorting to seeking cardiac surgical procedures and interventional procedures abroad.”
Dr S. Mithrakumar, Consultant Cardiologist of Durdans Hospital says, “I have been associated with Durdans Heart Centre since 2001. What impressed me was the quality of care and treatment and the presence of good nursing care. The current generation of managers are invested in further improving standards of care to that of any reputed cardiac centre in the world.”
Dr. Kesava Dev, Resident Cardiothoracic Surgeon says, “At Durdans Heart Centre we have the experience, technology and equipment to handle the entire spectrum of cardiac surgeries.” Dr Dev has been performing an outstanding service, operating on difficult cases with low ejection fraction, undertaking high rate of re-do surgical procedures and re-do cases with valve surgery; he has even performed double bypass surgery to high success.
Over the years, more than 12,000 open heart surgical procedures including 700 mitral valve replacements and 8000 Coronary Arterial Bypass Grafting (CABG) surgical procedures have been performed along with over 50,000 cath procedures.
Strategic investments have been made to offer the best support for cardiac surgeons and specialists. Dr W. S. Shantharaj, Consultant Cardiologist says, “Where technology is concerned they make efforts to invest in the most cutting-edge technology to support cardiac diagnostics and treatment.”
Dr Nihal Thenabadu, Consultant Cardiologist said, “Presently the Heart Centre is capable of carrying out most of the modern diagnostic techniques in cardiovascular disease. It is also capable of carrying out modern therapeutic procedures as coronary stenting, pacemaker implantation, ablation for arrhythmias and cardiac bypass surgery.”
In 2015, Cardiac and Angiography system with Advanced Ultrasound Philips EPIQ 7 was installed. A year later, in 2016, minimally invasive instruments for CABG and valve surgery were introduced. In 2018 the most advanced Philips Azurion Image Guided System in South Asia was brought down to facilitate cardiac interventions with a higher precision. These facilities help clinicians to undertake challenging cases with less contrast media and low dose radiation to a high degree of satisfaction.
Durdans Heart Centre has come a long way since its inception. Dr Pandula Athauda-Arachchi, Resident Consultant Interventional Cardiologist said, “Past year we have achieved some of the most advanced treatment comparable with anywhere in the world. Moving forward we would boldly embark on getting structural heart treatment, transcatheter heart valves, paravalvular leak closures, aortic septal defects, congenital heart disease, appendage and closure procedures, more development on stem cell cardiac applications and overall high standards that will set us apart as a landmark centre in cardiac care for the South Asian region.”