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UCC Anaesthesiology Newsletter

11 Jan 2024

Welcome to the winter edition:

Dr Claire Healy, SpR, CUH (editor)

We welcome you to the winter edition of the UCC Anaesthesiology Newsletter. We hope that you all had a well deserved break and had some time with your families and friends over the holiday period.

We include some departmental updates, festive social gatherings, and a story of how an Agatha Christie novel saved a child’s life.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Hickey for giving me the opportunity to partake in this newsletter. I am handing over the reins to the wonderful Dr Alina Petrache who I know will do a fabulous job.

We wish you all every happiness and success in 2024, especially those who are moving jobs, preparing for exams and applying for training schemes. As always, we welcome submissions from the region and beyond, including departmental, academic and social updates.


Departmental updates:

The Department of Anaesthesia, Mercy University Hospital:

We congratulate Dr Michelle O’Mahony, Consultant Anaesthesiologist, Mercy University Hospital who was recently acknowledged as the CAT Consultant Trainer Of The Year for a Small Department. She was recognised for being an exceptional role model and for her dedication to the training and welfare of DIT’s.

The Department of Anaesthesia, Cork University Hospital:

The Department of Anaesthesia, CUH, is delighted to welcome Dr Fahd Aamir, Consultant Anaesthesiologist.

Fahd earned his medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and completed his postgraduate medical training in Ireland, including a Lecturer role at the CUH. Prior to being appointed to the CUH, he worked as a Consultant Anaesthesiologist at Guy's & St. Thomas's Hospital, London having completed fellowships in Obstetric Anaesthesia at Queen Charlottes & Chelsea Hospital, London and in Regional Anaesthesia at Cork University Hospital, Cork.

He has special interests in Regional Anaesthesia and Obstetric Anaesthesia, and is currently completing a Masters of Data Science from the University of London. His interests outside of anaesthesia include squash, badminton and swimming.


The Dr Henry Hutchinson Stewart (HHS) Scholarship in Anaesthesia 2023:

We congratulate Ms Aoife Leonard, a final year medical student at UCC, who was recently awarded the Dr Henry Hutchinson Stewart (HHS) Scholarship in Anaesthesia 2023. She is photographed at the NUI awards ceremony in Croke Park (first photo).

Aoife was also shortlisted for an elevator pitch presentation at the National Patient Safety in Anaesthesia (NAPSAC) Conference in November for her research project titled, “Comparing perioperative neuromuscular blockade monitoring at two tertiary hospitals in Ireland and Australia” (second photo). The project was carried out both in the Cork University Hospital and the Fiona Stanley Hospital Australia, and was supervised by Dr Niamh McAuliffe, Dr Brian O’Brian, Dr John Corbett and Dr Abu Baker. Aoife is keen to pursue a career in anaesthesia and we wish her the very best of luck in the future.



CAI Simulation Program at ASSERT, UCC:

We congratulate the faculty and candidates who attended the recent CAI Simulation Training Courses at the ASSERT Centre, UCC. These courses provide anaesthesiology Doctors in Training with an opportunity to develop their technical and non-technical skills in a safe and supportive environment.

A Simulation in Intensive and Critical Care (SICC) course was held on October 5th 2023. Dr Niamh Feely (Consultant Anaesthesiologist, University Hospital Kerry) was Lead Faculty and other faculty members included Dr Zohaib Aslam (Consultant Anaesthesiologist, University Hospital Waterford), Dr Murtaza Hassan, (Consultant Anaesthesiologist, CUH) and Dr Aoife Driscoll (SpR, CUH).

A Crisis in Obstetric Anaesthesia (COAST) was held on November 16th. Faculty included Dr Oonagh Hickey (Lead Faculty), Dr Ahmed Shehata (Consultant Anaesthesiologists, CUH), Dr Sean Farrelly, Dr Aoife Driscoll and Dr Robert Craig (SpR’s CUH).

We thank Mr David Power (Manager for Simulation Training and Technologies at the ASSERT Centre) for working so closely with us over the year in delivering these courses. We congratulate him on recently being awarded a MSc in Artificial Intelligence (Computer Science), University of Galway. His research project was based on automated assessment of skills performance using deep learning.


PROMPT course, CUMH:

Another successful PRactical Obstetric Multi-Professional Training (PROMPT) Course was held on 23rd November 2023 at the Cork University Maternity Hospital. Midwifery, obstetric and anaesthetic candidates viewed online lectures and attended workshops during which skills necessary for the multidisciplinary management of obstetric emergencies were practised. Faculty for the “Maternal Collapse and Anaesthetic Emergencies” workshop included Dr Oonagh Hickey, Dr Atilla Bondar (Consultant Anaesthesiologists, CUH), and Dr Claire Healy (SpR, CUH).

The PROMPT program provides an excellent opportunity for members of the multidisciplinary team to practise technical and non-technical skills so that a safer service can be provided to the mothers and babies in our care.

PROMPT Maternity Foundation


Triathlon Ireland Special Recognition Awards for 2023:

We congratulate Dr Carolyn Hayes who was awarded the Triathlon Irelans Special Recongition Award for 2023. Carolyn Hayes competed in her first Olympic Games in Tokyo after winning a silver medal at the Wolrd Triathlon Cup Lisbon and10th place in her third Triathlon Championship Series event in Leeds in 2021. Dr Hayes is currently a SAT at University Hospital Limerick.


The December CUH Department of Anaesthesia Coffee and a Gas:

The Department of Anaesthesia, CUH, held a Coffee and a Gas in December, with festive cupcakes provided by Hannah’s Kitchen. The Coffee and a Gas program provides an opportunity for members of departments to meet in an informal setting and is a wellness initiative supported by the Association of Anaesthetists and the College of Anaesthesiologist of Ireland.

The CUH Department of Anaesthesia Wellness Committee would like to thank the College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland for providing the tutor fund which has been put to good use in 2023, funding team building activities such as the Coffee and a Gas Program, kayaking, pizza and the December sea swim.


The December CUH Department of Anaesthesia Pizza Party:

The CUH Department of Anaesthesia held its last pizza party of the year at Mr Bradley’s on Barrack Street, with Pizza provided by La Tana Pizzeria. The in-house traditional Irish music band offered great entertainment, particularly for our overseas colleagues who were new to Irish Trad music.


CUH Anaesthesiologist of the Week:

Congratulations to the recent awardees of the coveted title of “Anaesthesiologist of the Week”– an initiative amongst CUH Anaesthesiology DIT’s to recognise outstanding collegiality and general “soundness” from our colleagues, with the weekly votes collated by Dr Kim O’Brien (SpR). Recent winners include Drs Mairead Hennessy, Aoife O’Driscoll (currently in the lead with 2 wins), Roisin Daly, Kevin Sheehan, Michael O’Sullivan, Alina Petrache, Sershin Moodley and Ahmed Mahi.


The CUH Department of Anaesthesia December Swim:

Dr Aoife Driscoll (SpR, CUH) organised a dip in the sea on Saturday 2nd December at Fountainstown Beach to raise funds for Medicins Sans Frontiers. Members of the Anaesthetic Department, CUH, braved the cold under the watchful gaze of family members.

The survivors warmed up in the nearby mobile sauna and were rewarded with cups of hot coffee, homemade cakes, and pastries from the Wildflower Bakery. €2245 was raised for a very good cause.


The Department of Anaesthesia, CUH, Christmas Party:

The CUH Department of Anaesthesia Christmas Party was held at The Dean Hotel, Cork- this provided an opportunity for the consultant group to thank the Doctors in Training for their hard work and diligence throughout the year.



The CUMH Christmas Party:

There was a great turnout from the Anaesthetic Department at the CUMH Christmas Party held at the Sundays Well Boating and Tennis Club on the 15th December. Dr John Coulter, Consultant Obstetrician, was an entertaining Master of Ceremonies and the anaesthesiologists present performed well in the movie and music quiz.



The Lord Mayor of Cork City visits on Christmas Day:

Mr Kieran McCarthy, Lord Mayor of Cork City, visited the Delivery Suite, CUMH on Christmas Day, as part of a tour of front line workers during the Christmas period. He acknowledged the hard work and dedication of those who have provided vital 24/7 frontline services throughout the year.

Photos- Mr Kieran McCarthy, Lord Mayor, and the multidisciplinary team in the Delivery Suite, CUMH (1).

Celebrating Christmas in the staff room on the Delivery Suite, CUMH (2). in the recovery room, CUH (3), and in the General ICU, CUH (4).



The mysterious case of the Pale Horse and the sick child:

Agatha Christie (1890-1976), also known as the Duchess of Death, is best known for writing 66 best selling murder mystery novels. Perhaps some of our readers stimulated “the little grey cells” over the holiday period with one of her “cosy crime” novels. Agatha Christie herself was a remarkable woman and her achievements included becoming an expert surfer (first photo) and making great contributions to the world of archeology. She volunteered to work in hospitals during both world wars, spending much of her time in hospital dispensaries. The second photograph above shows her working in the dispensary of University College Hospital, London, during WW2. She often utilised her expert knowledge of pharmacology in her murder mysteries, with over 80 of her murder victims dying from poisoning.

Her life was often stranger than fiction, and she once unknowingly caused consternation in espionage circles at a critical point in World War 2. In 1941, she published a thriller on wartime espionage called “N or M”. In the novel, N and M were code names for Nazi spies who protagonists Tommy and Tuppence were trying to track down in the English seaside town of Leahamton, helped by a rather annoying Major Bletchley. One of Agatha Christie’s close friends was Tilly Knox, one of the lead code breakers who had just cracked the Enigma Code at the top secret facility at Bletchley Court. When “N or M” was published, M15 (the British Secret Service) was greatly concerned that Agatha Christie had knowledge of the secret code breaking facility and had included the Major Bletchley character mischievously. Rather than raise suspicions, Knox agreed to meet with Agatha Christie socially and casually asked her, over tea and scones, why she had chosen Bletchley as a character's name. She replied “Bletchley? My dear, I was stuck there on my way by train from Oxford to London and took revenge by giving the name to one of my least lovable characters “. M15 was satisfied with this answer and continued to monitor coded German correspondence.

In 1961, “The Pale Horse” was published, containing a case of poisoning with thallium. This drew criticism when it was claimed that the serial killer Graham Young had gotten the idea of using thallium as a poison from this book. There is little evidence for this, but a doctor working with the Scotland Yard police admitted that he had been alerted to the possibility of thallium poisoning having read “The Pale Horse”. In 1975, Agatha Christie received a letter from South America from someone who claimed to have saved a friend's life by identifying the symptoms of thallium poisoning by comparing them to those outlined in “The Pale Horse”. It was suggested in this case that the victim was being slowly poisoned by his young wife.

In 1977, a year after Agatha Christie had passed away, The British Journal of Hospital Medicine reported a case of a 19 month old girl whose life had been saved by a nurse who had recently read “The Pale Horse”. The child had become unwell in Qatar and had been flown to Hammersmith Hospital for emergency medical treatment. She was immediately admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, but her condition deteriorated as medical staff struggled to diagnose her mysterious illness. Marsha Maitland, a nurse at the hospital, noted the similarities between the symptoms as described in “The Pale Horse” and the condition afflicting the child. Unable to test for thallium in the hospital, the case was taken to Scotland Yard where urine tests confirmed the hypothesis. Apparently the child had accidentally ingested some insecticide containing the thallium. After receiving the appropriate treatment, she made an eventual and full recovery. The author of the British Journal of Hospital Medicine report thanked Agatha Christie for raising awareness of the dangers of thallium and praised Marsha Maitland for "keeping us up to date on the literature".



Dr Claire Healy, SpR, CUH

Dr Alina Petrache, Registrar, CUH

Dr Oonagh HIckey, Consultant Anaesthesiologist, CUH




Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine