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The Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS) hosted an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Patient and Public Open Day on Saturday 7 October, which was attended by more than 150 people.

Ashok Handa, Ping Zhan, Pierfrancesco Lapolla-Losasso, Jenny Buisan and Regent Lee standing behind a Champagne tower
From L-R: Ashok Handa, Ping Zhan, Pierfrancesco Lapolla-Losasso, Jenny Buisan and Regent Lee

Taking place on the 10th anniversary of the Oxford Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (OxAAA) Study, patients, their families, and friends joined researchers and clinical staff for a special day of celebration and learning.

The event was held in the Academic Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital and was organised by DPhil candidate Pierfrancesco Lapolla-Losasso, along with Research Nurse Specialists Jenny Buisan and Ping Zhang.

Ashok Handa, Professor of Vascular Surgery and Principal Investigator of the OxAAA Study welcomed the audience and spoke about AAA.

He said: “Regent Lee and I decided to set up OxAAA Study together as this was an area of vascular surgery where the biology of abdominal aortic aneurysms and their progression was still unknown. We were driven to study what would help us better understand the disease and hopefully give pointers to not just better management when people had an aneurysm but also prediction of when they might need treatment or intervention.”

During the day, the audience heard from several clinicians (Carla Goddard, Sabeena Sharma, Ed Sideso and Mei Nortley) on the modern management of aneurysms and the anaesthetic choices for aneurysm patients.

Regent Lee, Associate Professor of Vascular Surgery and Co-Principal Investigator of the OxAAA Study, then provided an update on the research programme.

The audience also heard from Matthew Eagle who spoke about losing his dad, Nigel, to a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm in February of this year. He lost his grandad to the same condition and his uncle, Peter, has also been diagnosed with the aneurysm. Both Nigel and Peter had been part of the OxAAA study.

Discovering that the study had previously been paused due to a lack of funding, Matthew, set about raising vital funds for the study: a cycle ride from London to Paris, along with 10 friends, raised an amazing £7000, and another ride from Oxford to Bath has raised over £1500. As of way of thanking the Eagle family for their kind donation, Matthew was presented with a certificate of appreciation during the event.

An informative and lively panel discussion followed and after lunch, attendees were invited to find out more about physiotherapy rehabilitation, ultrasound scans, aneurysm stents, surgical instruments and much more by visiting the various interactive stations.

The day finished with a celebratory toast and speeches.

Professor Handa added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our clinical colleagues in the vascular service who make such a difference to our patients, whether it be in outpatients, the ward, the community, the operating theatre, the radiology suite, or the vascular studies unit. Further, I thank our many research collaborators in Oxford and beyond in laboratory science, imaging and data science who have helped us make this one of the leading AAA research programmes in the UK.

“Most importantly our thanks to our patients and their families for engaging in our research and helping us to understand where there might be therapeutic advances in the future management of aneurysms and our many funders.”

Panel discussion in the lecture theatre
Audience members in the lecture theatre

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