A pensioner has become the first person in the world to have her life saved by having a miniature sieve inserted into her veins, it emerged today.
Grandmother-of-three Doreen Carter, 80, was fitted with the revolutionary device by doctors during a 15-minute procedure.
The surgery involves inserting a specially-designed titanium filter into the inferior vena cava – a major vein which carries blood to the heart.
Once inserted a wire mesh or cage is opened up that catches any clots before they travel to the lungs.
Doreen became the first person in the world to undergo the treatment during an op at
at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Berks.
Following its success on Doreen doctors are now hailing the new technology as a tool which could prevent thousands of deaths each year.
The “titanium filter” is designed to reduce the risk of pulmonary embolisms and was inserted near the pensioner’s heart.
Mrs Carter had a major bowel operation on Thursday and said it was “a privilege” to be the first patient to undergo the procedure.
Doreen, from Wokingham, Berks., said: “I’m quite happy everyone knows what they’re doing and I just let them get on with it.”
Dr Carl Waldmann, a consultant at the hospital, said giving post-operative patients anti-clotting drugs can be risky.
Existing measures to catch clots also carry risks because they are difficult to insert and remove – and he feels the advice could save thousands.
He said the new device – a titanium wire inside an 18-inch-long (46cm) tube – offers doctors “another option”.
Dr Waldmann said: “This is something we can put in for a limited number of days and easily take out.”
Pulmonary embolisms – blood clots which reach the lungs – kill an estimated 25,000 people a year in the UK.
A spokesperson for Royal Berkshire Hospital said: “We are one of seven hospitals who are taking part in the project – six in the UK and one in Belgium.
“We didn’t expect to be the first in the world – our ICU team had only received their training a few hours prior to Doreen arriving in the unit following her surgery.
“They realised that she could benefit from being fitted with the device so, after discussions with her, it was decided to go ahead.”
One of the nurses involved in the procedure, Ellen Bowley, said: “I’m really proud to have been part of the team and hopefully this will be of real benefit to a great many patients in the future.”
Dr Carl Waldmann said: “With the existing devices patients had to be taken down for a specialist procedure with could take up to three hours in total.
“Obviously, moving patients from intensive care is something we try to avoid.
“This new procedure can be carried out within an hour of the patient arriving in intensive care and takes only 15 minutes.
“This is something we can put in for a limited number of days and easily take out.”
Doreen had the device removed yesterday afternoon – five days after it was installed – it had completed its job and she no longer needs it.