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IN MEMORY OF DR ADAM FITZPATRICK

 

DR ADAM FITZPATRICK

28 DECEMBER 1956 – 19 JANUARY 2020

 

TRUSTEE – ARRHYTHMIA ALLIANCE

CHAIR – STARS MEDICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE

MEMBER - AF ASSOCIATION MEDICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE

 

 

“COLLABORATION IS KEY…”

                                                             

      Prof Richard Sutton             Trudie Lobban MBE                       Pierre Chauvineau

Medical             =                        Patient/Carer              =                   Industry

The arrhythmia community suffered a great loss with the unexpected death of Dr Adam Fitzpatrick on Saturday 18 January 2020.

I first met Adam in 2001 at the launch of the ESC Syncope Guidelines in Nice, France.  We immediately realised we had so much in common.  We both knew there was so much work to do to prevent the unnecessary suffering and mis-diagnosis of syncope.  Something so simple and yet so complex that all too many doctors ‘got it wrong’ when treating patients presenting with loss of conscious.  That day I finally met a doctor as passionate about syncope as I was.  From there on Adam became my partner in bringing about change, he did not hesitate when I asked him to become Chair of the STARS Medical Advisory Board.

By 2003 we realised that the problem was not just syncope but all arrhythmias (heart rhythm disorders).  When I asked for his support to set about changing policy in the UK he committed 100%.  Over the following months Adam helped and guided me through the complex and often disjointed arrhythmia world and by May 2004 he agreed to be a founding Trustee of Arrhythmia Alliance as we hosted our first Arrhythmia Awareness Week (AAAW), later to become World Heart Rhythm Week.  We succeeded in changing policy in less than nine months, often by working through the night drafting proposals, meetings in London, phone calls and thousands of e-mails (as those close to Adam know all too well – why write one e-mail when a hundred will do?).

Once we had our new chapter added to the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease we set about ensuring it was implemented and Adam led the way in launching the Arrhythmia Alliance Cardiac Update Meetings, followed by A-A Heart Rhythm Congress (held annually in Birmingham, UK) – two previously unheard of concepts.  Identifying local best practice and then bringing them to the national arena.  A-A HRC is still the only event in the world that brings patients, healthcare professionals, policy makers and industry together to improve education, arrhythmia services and better outcomes for all those involved in or affected by cardiac arrhythmia.

Adam never wavered in his commitment to all three charities and forever working to deliver world class arrhythmia care to all patients.  He established the worlds’ first Rapid Access Blackout Clinic in Manchester based on the STARS Checklist we had developed.  Never before had anyone thought of something so simple and so far-reaching.  It changed the approach to identifying and diagnosing those presenting with unexplained loss of consciousness – others have gone on to adapt and copy and we now see more syncope services than ever before, due mainly to the foresight of Dr Adam Fitzpatrick – a very special, caring individual.

I think we all agree that the medical profession has lost a great man and the thousands of patients he treated will be forever grateful for his empathy, kindness and support.  He has saved so many lives over the years; it is just so tragic that his own life could not be saved.

Arrhythmia Alliance and its sister charities have lost a passionate and committed member of our ‘team’; the healthcare community has lost an exceptional doctor; and the arrhythmia world will be a poorer place without Dr Fitzpatrick – however his legacy will live on with the ground-breaking research he published and his unique way of improving and delivering first-class arrhythmia services.

Arrhythmia Alliance. STARS and AF Association are pleased to announce that his memory will live on through

Adam Fitzpatrick Lectures to be held annually at Arrhythmia Alliance Heart Rhythm Congress.

STARS – Syncope HealthCare Pioneers Report – showcasing best practice in memory of Dr Adam Fitzpatrick; this annual report will be published to coincide with A-A World Heart Rhythm Week as Adam was one of the instigators of launching an awareness week in 2004.

Adam believed in collaboration – he was passionate in bringing people together to achieve greater results – he sought perfection and was never satisfied, always seeking new, innovative ways of improving healthcare.

Arrhythmia Alliance was founded on our ethos of collaboration – it is the only way to achieve the best for patients worldwide.  Patients, healthcare communities and our industry colleagues working together to provide rapid diagnosis and access to appropriate treatments to restore the patient back to a person leading as active a life as possible.  It only seems fitting therefore and right for the three communities, and those who knew Adam well, to share their memories of Adam.

Prof Richard Sutton trained Adam when he was a registrar in London.  Pierre Chauvineau worked with Adam for many years supporting many of his research projects.  Adam, Pierre and I became close friends and colleagues – The Three Musketeers as we jokingly called ourselves.

 

PROFESSOR RICHARD SUTTON:

I first knew Adam when he joined the Cardiac research team at Westminster Hospital in 1988. His arrival was not a breath of fresh air but more like a storm. Everything changed; he saw projects making no progress, took them and finished them. His productivity was huge.

He was always a good person to work with bringing humour and unique insights to every situation. He cared for patients in a way that they were his own parents, brothers, sisters or children. Together we published 16 papers and 28 abstracts, book chapters etc. in his four years at Westminster. He also wrote his MD thesis on Syncope which passed with flying colours; the only criticism made by the examiners was that it was too long, going into two volumes.

He left a huge hole when he departed. He went to Bournemouth, Royal Brompton, then Southampton as Senior Registrar and these posts were followed by three years in San Francisco to work with Mel Scheinman, ultimately, being promoted to Assistant Professor. In the US and the other UK hospitals, he did equally well learning much that was not available at Westminster, especially ablation of arrhythmias in San Francisco, returning to the UK to be Consultant Cardiac Electrophysiologist in Manchester.

Again, he did an outstandingly good job there forming a busy Cardiac Electrophysiology Department. From my viewpoint, his great achievements were his approach to 'Blackouts' which had profound influence on the care of these patients not just in UK but also worldwide. This combined with his great enthusiasm and guidance for the STARS charity proved to be an excellent partnership. Another important step was discovering that there is a much greater overlap between arrhythmias and epilepsy than had previously been thought. This finding was quickly supported by evidence that he gathered. He was the first in the country to appoint an arrhythmia nurse specialist.

His health in the last three decades, unfortunately, attenuated his productivity contributing to his early retirement and, ultimately, to his untimely death. In Adam, we have lost a wonderful person, a superb physician, an excellent clinical researcher and a great friend to many of us.

 

PIERRE CHAUVINEAU:

Dear Adam,

I want to remember all that you brought to us as a friend and as a physician. We met as you moved back to Manchester after your experience in San Francisco. You quickly impressed me with your fast thinking and your holistic approach to cardiology. When you talked to us about your willingness to create a Rapid Access Blackout clinic in Manchester, you made such a good case that it was not difficult to find the investment required. You had already been partnering with the neurologists to ensure patients would be treated holistically. You had drawn the clinical decision tree as if it was already in your head for a long time. You had a view that a number of epilepsy diagnoses had a cardiac origin and you set out to prove it clinically.

Then I happened to cross Trudie’s path in Oxford. The outcome of that discussion was that Francesca, Trudie’s daughter who had numerous blackout episodes had not yet seen a Cardiologist. This is how I had the opportunity to introduce Adam to Trudie. From that connection came a long-lasting friendship between the three of us and a strong collaboration between the patients, the clinicians and the industry. Some of the outcomes of that friendship were the creation of the Arrhythmia Alliance, the development of a patient focused Arrhythmia National Service Framework, STARS Medical Advisory Board among many other things. You used to call us the three musketeers!

Adam, you always had a very witty and dry sense of humour.  What mattered most to you was to ensure that everything you did went to improve patient care. You treated every one of your patients as if they were part of your family. You were always frustrated by all the processes and the internal barriers that prevented you from giving better care to your patients. When your health allowed, you had a relentless energy to remove barriers and obtain the data that would help you find the best way to treat your patients. 

On the personal side, you were a gentle giant who had a passion for rugby. You used to play second or third row and we could see it from your ears! You were always there when we needed you with your expert opinion. You lacked confidence despite your exceptional intellect, work ethic and tiresome dedication. You were a committed family man.

Today, we are very sad you are no longer with us. However, over time we have built so many good memories and friendships with you that we will remember and value them. We will miss you as a friend and as a physician.

 

TRUDIE LOBBAN:

Adam was a personal loyal friend, he was committed, he was a professional, he was passionate about all that he did, he cared.  Qualities that made him such a special person.

Throughout the years he provided me with both professional and personal support and has encouraged and guided me through many challenges and difficult situations. 

Adam…. you were so supportive when my husband died – you wrapped your arms around my daughters and I in a huge, secure, comforting hug – reassuring us we would get through this... 

Every six months or so  you, Pierre and I  would meet – checking to see if I was OK and putting the world to right.

And of course the endless, infamous, Adam Fitzpatrick e-mails!

Adam - we first met in 2001 and I think we can say our lives changed for ever.  We had each found our ‘syncope’ partner.  We both had the same commitment and vision and, boy, what a force to contend with when we set our minds on something.

You had the expertise, knowledge and vision of what should and must happen to deliver first class arrhythmia services.  You were like a tsunami, once you had the vision the solution just fell into place and nothing would get in your way until you achieved the unimaginable.  People were blown away with your energy and passion.

You often agonised as to whether you were doing the right thing – not the right thing for yourself but for others.  Perhaps that was your weakness – you cared too much for others and didn’t put yourself first often enough.

There are too many achievements for me to list but I want you to know above all else, that you literally saved lives, not just the patients but their families as well.  Any patient who was fortunate enough to be referred to you came away feeling they had been ‘heard’ someone had finally listened and more importantly understood.

We always kept in touch.  Only a few weeks ago one of your famous e-mails arrived telling me you had lost your wallet but you were at the gym – you made me smile.  Not quite sure why you shared that with me – but I am glad that you did.

Adam you never believed in yourself.  I hope wherever you are, you will finally realise how many people believed in YOU.  The difference you made to thousands, yes thousands, of lives – patients, colleagues, healthcare services, and to me.

Adam I will miss you but will always be thankful that I had the pleasure of knowing you and the honour of calling you my friend.  My very special friend.

Adam Fitzpatrick

28 December 1956 – 18 January 2020

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