15 July 2005

Memorial statue for top Ulster cardiologist

Belfast Telegraph

By Ben Lowry
15 July 2005

Frank Pantridge - BBC photo

The Ulster doctor who developed the portable defibrillator, which has saved countless heart attack patients, is to have a statue erected in his memory.

The monument to Professor Frank Pantridge will stand at Lisburn Council's headquarters building - Lagan Valley Island.

The distinguished cardiologist, who died in December aged 88, produced the first portable defibrillator while based at the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1965.

The plans for a statue have been welcomed by politicians and former colleagues, many of whom have been critical about the failure to award a knighthood or peerage to Professor Pantridge during his lifetime.

The Second World War veteran, who survived Japanese prisoner-of-war camps, received the CBE.

Lisburn Council's Corporate Services Committee has recommended the statue should be placed adjacent to Lagan Valley Island's main entrance, on the canal side.

The DUP Mayor of Lisburn, Jonathan Craig, welcomed the decision to erect a monument to the Hillsborough-born physician.

"Professor Pantridge's contribution to the medical field has been a great one," Mr Craig said: "My wife is a paramedic and she uses his equipment on a daily basis, and it does save lives."

Prior to Professor Pantridge's portable version, defibrillators - which apply an electric shock across the chest to correct a disturbance of the heart rhythm - only existed in hospitals.

His first portable model was operated by car batteries and weighed 70 kilos, and was transported to the scene of a heart attack by ambulance.

The success of this innovation was clear by 1972, when the so-called Pant- ridge Plan was used to manage US President Lyndon Johnson when he suffered a heart attack.

Professor Pantridge's expertise in heart disease had its origins in the 1939-45 war, when he became ill with cardiac beri beri and his heart swelled to three times normal size - and he deduced what was wrong.

Later in the 1940s, he spent time working in Michigan under FN Wilson, the then world authority on electrocardiography.

On appointment to the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1950, Professor Pantridge quickly established an internationally acclaimed cardiology unit.

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