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Pioneering children’s heart surgeon among Southwark NHS staff honoured in New Year’s list

Three people from NHS hospitals in Southwark have been given New Year’s honours in recognition for their years of service – including a man whose invention changed children’s heart surgery around the world.

Professor Shakeel Qureshi, from Evelina London Children’s Hospital, was made a Knight Bachelor. Dr Malur Sudhanva, from King’s College Hospital, was awarded an OBE. Vanda Fairchild, a nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’, was given an MBE.

Professor Qureshi, a globally respected heart surgeon for children, was given his knighthood for services to paediatric cardiology and charity.

He joined Guy’s and St Thomas’ trust in 1988 and realised that he was lacking the right equipment to operate on children who have congenital heart problems.

Undeterred, he co-invented the Tyshak balloon catheter, which allows many children and adults to have their heart defect treated without open heart surgery. His device is now used worldwide.

Professor Qureshi also invented a new piece of equipment to treat leaky heart valves in 2013 – the paravalvar leak device. He has been at the forefront of using and evaluating new systems to allow specialist doctors to treat leaky valves, and has organised teaching conferences for paediatric cardiologists worldwide for more than twenty years.

On the charity side, he is Chairman of 4 Peace of Mind, an organisation that helps give out aid to communities that are badly affected by natural disasters. He also works pro bono and is chairman of the medical board for the charity Chain of Hope, operating on sick children both in the UK and abroad, and training teams of doctors in less developed countries.

Professor Qureshi, who has four children and nine grandchildren, said: “When I got the email I read it several times before I responded because I thought it was a scam. It was a shock and I still haven’t got over it. To have somebody appreciate your work, values and contributions is an amazing feeling, especially when I look back at where I started. My parents moved from Pakistan to the UK in the 60s and it is their hard work and sacrifices and my specialty that got me here.”

Vanda Fairchild was made an MBE for her services to the NHS and to women’s martial arts. She retired from Guy’s and St Thomas’ earlier this year having been a nurse for 37 years.

She spent the last eighteen years working in the trust’s transplant, renal and urology team. Ms Fairchild became a clinical nurse specialist in 2013, and has helped young kidney patients and their families transition from paediatric services to adult kidney care.

Vanda said: “The nomination came as a complete surprise. When I opened the letter I laughed out loud and then burst into tears. I felt overwhelmed that someone had taken the time to nominate me. I accept the award for myself and on behalf of all the nurses who have given so much of themselves to their roles in the NHS.”

She also used to run an aikido club for children and adults in Rotherhithe, before retiring to go back to her native Leeds.

King’s Dr Sudhanva, a consultant medical virologist, was given his OBE for services to healthcare science, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “I am honoured and humbled by this recognition. This honour is dedicated to all my fellow laboratory-based clinical virologists, clinical microbiologists, clinical scientists, biomedical scientists, senior assistant technical officers, administrative staff, volunteers, managers, IT and procurement teams across UK, whose magnificent behind-the-scenes efforts have been such a crucial part of the UK’s COVID-19 response.”

“I arrived in the UK from India 25 years ago with a hunger for knowledge. Wherever I’ve trained or worked, I have met so many people who have encouraged me to aim high, get work done, and let the result show for itself. Finally, I would like to thank my wife and son, for supporting me during the long hours I spent working.”

More than 30 NHS staff members were given honours in the New Year’s list, including chief medical officer Chris Whitty, who was knighted.

Andrew Ridley, regional director for the NHS in London, said: “All staff in London have gone above and beyond this year, from treating patients in the capital’s hospitals and communities, to delivering the life-saving vaccines to Londoners in the city’s museums, stadiums, pharmacies, GP surgeries and places of worship.

“It is great to see the breadth of the brilliant work our staff do reflected in the honours awarded, and I want to congratulate every one of those receiving recognition today for their relentless commitment and innovation to protect and improve the health of all Londoners, especially during the last two years.”

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