Skip to content
left end
left end
right end


Sue Bennett, 63 from Cheltenham, underwent cardiac surgery at the Bristol Heart Institute to replace her mitral valve in September 2012. Sue had been having heart trouble for a while and when she was visiting one of her daughters in Australia she was admitted to hospital with heart failure. She was diagnosed with a leaking mitral valve and a ten day holiday turned into three weeks in hospital and another two weeks in Australia before she was well enough to fly home. Once she was safely back in the UK she was assessed by Professor Raimondo Ascione at the BHI and booked in for surgery.

Sue Bennett PASPORTWhile she was undergoing surgery she was also taking part in a clinical trial to find out whether monitoring oxygen levels in the brain during surgery improves the health of patients after the operation and reduces the number of blood transfusions required. The PASPORT trial compares two different methods. The standard method is for doctors to monitor the global measures of oxygen supply and demand from blood tests throughout surgery and if they drop below a certain pre-set value then the patient receives a blood transfusion to get more oxygen into the body.

The new method looks at a more patient specific approach for measuring oxygen levels. Patients have two sensors attached to their forehead which allows doctors to monitor oxygen levels in the patient's brain during surgery. If the oxygen levels in the brain fall below a certain level then an algorithm for raising these is followed. If a patient's oxygen levels cannot be raised and global measures of oxygenation are also low a blood transfusion is then given.

Around 150 patients from three hospitals in the UK are taking part in this trial, which is being funded by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Programme Grant for Applied Research. Half of the patients will receive the standard method and half will receive the new method.

Sue does not know which half she was in, but she says "I decided to take part in research because I thought that if other people hadn't taken part in research trials in the past then I probably wouldn't be having the procedure I had and they might not have been able to offer my anything. I'm lucky to be alive and the doctors in Bristol were amazing."