In a week which marked International Women’s Day, there was positive news for the Midlands region with the inaugural appointment of Glasson native, Dr Catherine Moran, to the position of female consultant neurosurgeon at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.
Dr Moran joins a 12 strong team of neurosurgeons in the National Neurosurgical Centre and returns to her former training ground, bringing with her a sub-speciality in complex spinal surgery and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS ).
DBS is a functional neurosurgical procedure and a long-term treatment option for patients with movement disorders (such as Parkinson’s disease, tremor, and dystonia ) in which neurotransmitters are implanted in the brain and electrical stimulation then used to regulate abnormal movement.
Dr Moran’s journey to becoming a consultant neurosurgeon has taken her 20 years to complete. The acquisition of her expertise in DBS surgery, has now made it possible for the establishment of a dual-site, National Deep Brain Stimulation Service.
Dr Moran will conduct the surgical implantation procedure in Beaumont Hospital with upwards of 40 patient deemed suitable for DBS surgery and the surgeries will commence in late summer 2021.
Previously, DBS treatment was only available via the Treatment Abroad Scheme in Belfast and centres in the UK, requiring extensive travel for patients at each stage of their care. For many patients with severe motor function symptoms, their physical limitations rule out the option of travelling to receive treatment and for this reason, only a small percentage of suitable patients have taken up DBS as a treatment option in the past.
Reflecting upon her appointment, Dr Moran, noted her aspiration to return to a working environment at Beaumont Hospital.
“It’s like coming home. I have been abroad for many years on fellowships to complete my training but I was always wanted to return to Beaumont Hospital. It’s simply ‘happenchance’ that I should be the first female consultant neurosurgeon and I hope I can offer encouragement to other female medical students deciding on what medical speciality to pursue.
“Neurosurgery can be such a varied practice and while my sub specialities are in functional neurosurgery and complex spinal surgery, I will also be operating on patients across a wide range of a neuro-related conditions. I will say that the training is not easy and can be all consuming. But for me it was definitely worth it,” Dr Moran stated.
The Glasson native discussed the impact of establishing a National Deep Brain Stimulation Service in Ireland.
“Having undertaken a Fellowship in DBS surgery in Bristol, I wanted to implement the service in Ireland. The Mater Hospital is already offering the medical side of the treatment and what was missing was the surgical arm.
“My fellow neurosurgeons in Beaumont Hospital have a wide range of specialities that address the treatment of most areas of neurosurgery. But the one speciality that was missing was functional neurosurgery and I am very pleased to bring this capability to the team,” Dr Moran remarked.
When the service is running at full capacity, Dr Moran expects to operate on approximately 60 patients per annum and while most of the funding will be provided by the state, Beaumont Hospital Foundation is calling for donations and fundraising support to cover the ancillary costs of establishing the service.