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The Bristol heart babies Monday, 5 July, 1999, 05:10 GMT 06:10 UK
Parents praise Bristol heart surgeons
heart op
Many of the operations were extremely complex and fraught with difficulties
A survey of the parents of some of the children who died following heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary has found many have nothing but praise for the two surgeons at the centre of the controversy.

The Bristol Heart Babies
In a detailed questionnaire handed out by the Bristol Surgeons' Support Group, one parent whose baby died describes surgeon James Wisheart as "a very special man".

Another said all she ever felt from surgeon Janardan Dhasmana was "pure compassion and love for her son", who died following heart surgery.

The survey, published on Monday, is a boost for the pair, four months into a public inquiry into the children's deaths.

Mr Wisheart was struck off last year after an investigation by the General Medical Council found 29 out of 53 children died following complex heart surgery. Several others were left brain-damaged.

The chief executive of the United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust, John Roylance, was also struck off, and Mr Dhasmana was barred from operating on children for three years.

Divided opinion

But opinion of the three men at the heart of the row is clearly divided.

Dhasmana
Janardan Dhasmana...struck-off by the GMC
Several formed the Bristol Heart Children's Action Group and were highly critical of the surgeons.

This new survey covers more than 400 respondents, from patients and parents to relatives and hospital colleagues.

Several colleagues praised the two surgeons for their "unstinting dedication, care, skill and personal attention".

The questionnaire is to be presented as a formal statement to the inquiry.

It will also be published on the Bristol Surgeons' Support Group's Website.

One patient is quoted as saying: "If ever I needed cardiac surgery again, I can think of no-one I would rather operate on me than Mr Wisheart."

'Thank God for Mr Wisheart'

A parent whose child died said: "Mr Wisheart was the only surgeon we met who said he could operate. We knew our daughter was going to die and we thank God we met him when we did."

Another said: "Mr Wisheart is a very special man who, over the many years as a practitioner, has made an unmistakable difference to hundreds if not thousands of lives and families."

James Wisheart
James Wisheart..."a very special man"
Another parent whose child died says: "Mr Dhasmana behaved professionally, openly and with great compassion, emphasising the reality of the situation and preparing us for the worst, yet giving us faith and confidence."

The inquiry, which is costing the taxpayer about 18m, is entering its 10th week and is expected to last 18 months.

Mr Wisheart is due to make his first appearance before the inquiry on Wednesday.

The Brstol Surgeons' Support Group's Website address is http://members.aol.com/bristolssg/

See also:

15 Mar 99 | The Bristol heart babies
25 Mar 99 | The Bristol heart babies
24 Mar 99 | The Bristol heart babies
07 Jun 99 | The Bristol heart babies
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