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Noel Fitzpatrick – the internationally acclaimed veterinary surgeon and pioneer of prosthetic implants for animals – is set to make history again by launching Europe’s most advanced neuro-orthopaedic centre for dogs and cats.

This weekend’s (Aug 31) official opening of Fitzpatrick Referrals’ state-of-the-art veterinary facilitiesat Eashing, near Godalming, Surrey, represents a ground-breaking £10m investment to create a world-class “centre of excellence” in diagnosis, surgery and rehabilitation.

The first veterinary surgeon to successfully apply a prosthetic limb to a dog where both bone and skin can grow onto metal – a technique with far-reaching cross-over potential for human surgery – Noel believes in “pushing the boundaries” and creating solutions for conditions that may never have previously been treatable.

Innovative surgical procedures and techniques pioneered by Noel Fitzpatrick and his team allow animals to regain pain-free functional quality of life. The work being done at Eashing also provides valuable experience for medical science as a whole. Examples include cartilage resurfacing, limb-sparing cancer surgery and spinal vertebral fusion.

According to Professor Gordon Blunn of the Centre for Biomedical Engineering, Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculo-Skeletal Science at University College London: “Orthopaedic conditions and diseases are common to both human beings and to animals. For example osteoarthritis is debilitating condition seen in humans, cats and dogs. Bone cancer which can lead to loss of life in humans and is usually associated with the peripheral skeleton is also seen in the peripheral skeleton of large dog breeds. Translation of ideas, orthopaedic practice and treatments, from humans to the veterinary field and visa versa has considerable advantages to all animals including dogs, cats and man. Noel Fitzpatrick is pioneering this concept and his work in limb reconstruction for dogs and cats has already had benefits in both veterinary and human orthopaedic practice.”

Strongly committed to the “One Medicine” ethos, Noel’s latest move marks a giant leap forward in realising this dream of providing the same high level of care and compassion for all sentient beings – animals as much as people.

With over 25% of UK households having a dog or cat, and with these pets increasingly seen as part of the family, there is a strong and growing interest in finding ways to ensure that animals can survive major injuries or disease and go on to live happy and pain-free futures. Noel also fervently believes that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” His vision for the facility is to achieve “a true marriage of compassion and surgical excellence.”

Veterinarian Peter van Dongen DRS(Utrecht) CERT.V.R, MRCVS comments: “Noel is one of the most compassionate, caring and dedicated vets I have ever met in my professional life. He mixes unrivalled specialist knowledge with unfailing enthusiasm, true love for animals and an uncanny ability to communicate with people of all walks of life. He is truly one special vet.”

Fitzpatrick Referrals is the only veterinary hospital in the whole of Europe to have installed a closed-field Siemens Symphony MRI scanner, which can provide ultra-clear images of bone, spine, brain and soft tissue to enable rapid and accurate diagnosis of routine problems such as slipped discs as well as potentially life-threatening conditions such as tumours.

The hospital also has a specially fitted-out physiotherapy suite and a hydrotherapy pool to facilitate patients’ rehabilitation and recovery.

Noel believes that education is the key for the future of medicine and its possibility – not just education of the public regarding the importance of the animal-human bond – but also education of the next generation of veterinary pioneers with new dynamic interactive techniques which both inspire and inform. In this regard the new conference facility at Fitzpatrick Referrals is the first of its kind which combines a cinema-style environment with a real-time interactive forum for exchange of medical innovation between universities and centres of excellence worldwide.

The idea is that this unique ethos at Fitzpatrick Referrals can be sustained well into the future and that the facility at Eashing should be the first of a number of such neuro-orthopaedic centres globally.

The official opening on August 31 is set to be a memorable occasion – with over 500 veterinary surgeons and specialists from all over the UK and Ireland descending on Eashing to view the new facilities and to experience a day of entertainment by the likes of Alistair McGowan, the master of mimicry, and music by bands including The Saw Doctors – one of the most popular Irish folk-rock groups in the world.

Host and compere for the day will be radio and TV presenter Chris Evans. Chris’s own dog, Enzo, a German Shepherd, was “written off” by other vets after becoming paralysed with two herniated discs – but Chris refused to give up hope. Noel fitted Enzo with two bolts to replace the collapsed disc and keep the vertebrae apart. The surgery was followed by extensive physiotherapy and hydrotherapy to enable Enzo to learn to walk again.

Says Chris: “Noel lives out his dreams with boundless curiosity, ambition and genius, the product of which is hundreds, soon to be thousands, of fixed pets and happy owners – like me. I have huge respect for his endeavour, his integrity and his compassion and to me he’s a superhero-vetman who will leave no stone unturned in his quest to heal, to create and to comfort. He thinks of solutions to medical problems that I’m sure no-one else could even dream of, let alone think of. Actually – I don’t think he ever sleeps!”

Chris is a regular visitor to Fitzpatrick Referrals while Enzo is recuperating – so it is highly appropriate that he is Master of Ceremonies for the official opening of the hospital at the end of this month.

Noel Fitzpatrick says: “I’m absolutely delighted that Chris and Alistair and all these fantastic musicians will be with us on our launch day. It promises to be a really great day.”

He adds: “This is a big move for Fitzpatrick Referrals and a major financial commitment for us. We’ve been able to take a redundant farm and transform it into a truly revolutionary facility for animal orthopaedics and neurosurgery. But it’s just the first step – there’s so much more to be achieved. Our mission is to provide the same respect for and quality of care to animals as we would for people. If such work contributes to advancement of medical science in humans then that’s great – That’s what the ‘One Medicine’ concept it all about.”

For further information on Fitzpatrick Referrals, please contact Matt Connor or Lisa Cherryman on 01483 423761 http://www.fitzpatrickreferrals.com

MEDIA ENQUIRIES:

To arrange a visit to Fitzpatrick Referrals and an interview with Noel Fitzpatrick, or to cover the official opening event on August 31, please contact Andy Smith or Peter Gordon at OSGL on 01372 745000 or 07737 271 676 email andy.smith@osgl.co.uk
A wide selection of photographs available on request.
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