05.06.17 The countdown to the Grand Canal Challenge has begun! Already, we have had more people sign up to this year’s event than last year, and we have an even better plan for the day. I think we must be completely unique – you’d be hard pressed to find another pair of partner hospitals joined by a canal. So, as ever, Royal Brompton and Harefield are special! Some of the funds raised on the day will go towards buying a remarkable piece of life-saving equipment called a Mitraclip. This piece of kit is used when a patient is suffering from a leaky mitral valve, which means the heart is not pumping as it should. It literally ‘clips’ together the parts of the valve that have become detached from each other. So, while it sounds expensive at £17.5k per item, when a Mitraclip is used, a patient will spend far less time in hospital (perhaps just a couple of days), and have a much quicker and better recovery – saving money in many other ways. Most importantly, it gives patients a terrific chance of living a quality life again. At the moment, the NHS is not paying for this, so that, as usual, is why we are stepping in. Harefield has been at the forefront of using the Mitraclip but funds have been withdrawn – not because the equipment isn’t successful, far from it – but because it is deemed to be too expensive. But one glance at the success rate at Harefield will show you that this is a brilliant piece of kit, which above all else, saves lives. Our doctors are desperate to carry on using Mitraclips, although it falls outside NHS funding for now. They are convinced that the evidence is so overwhelming that the NHS will have to fund it in the end. As usual, Harefield is pioneering, and our patients are having the very best treatment possible as a result. So, the Charity is determined to buy more of these clips – to be used at both hospitals. If you come and join us by walking, cycling, running or volunteering at our Grand Canal Challenge, you will be saving lives. And that’s no exaggeration – it’s really true. I hope to see you there. You can sign up here.