The year was 1993. I had owned a real company for about a week, and suddenly the phone started ringing. Shocked, I answered – “Thames Medical, how can I help you?”
“I understand you can help me monitor a patient… who isn’t human,” said the voice on the other end.
An Unusual Phone Call
“This has to be a wind up,” I thought. Nobody (bar outside of a few colleagues from my previous company) knew of the work I had done in with Dr Peter Kurtesz in 1987. This was also a time before the popularity of blogs, youtube and facebook, so I was quite surprised that I had been sought out.
I later called the company I was collaborating with (Pace Tech in Florida) and asked them if I could make a few changes to their multiparameter monitor – to which they agreed. A few short weeks later I was off to Ireland to meet my new client. I’d be spending a week teaching him and his team how to monitor some of the top race horses in Ireland under Anaesthesia.
After returning home, I sent one of the pictures I took to the Veterinary Times. They decided to run the picture and a short column article on the work we had done. I later received 6 phone calls from people Vets who wanted to know more about this strange thing called a Pulse Oximeter and what could it do for them…
One of these Vets worked for a company who were just about to launch a new anaesthetic drug on the veterinary market: Propofol.
Hall and Clarke had just published Mortality in Small Animal Anaesthesia and here was this “new” safe wonder drug. But one piece was missing – the appropriate level of anaesthetic monitoring.
Could the Pulse Oximeter really be the piece of equipment they were looking for? And could it really be the one I had with me?
This was to be decided by a certain Dr Taylor of Cambridge University.
Pulse Oximiter visits Cambridge University
A meeting was organised and I drove up to Cambridge to meet the company rep, Graham Walsh. We were ushered into the X-Ray theatre where I was invited to set up the pulse oximeter – initially on a dog. I was asked lots of questions by lots of interesting and people. After a couple of hours, however, I was beginning to get a little frustrated. I had come all this way to meet Dr Taylor and up till then still hadn’t met him. I was just about to give up on the whole Veterinary thing and concentrate on the pre-hospital/ trauma field I so enjoyed.
Dr Polly Taylor turned out to be one the most agreeable, positive and knowledgeable persons I have met. She had already evaluated the pulse oximeter and the special lingual probe I had built – and ordered 6!
After her endorsement, the drug company agreed to work with me and together we would all promote “Safety in Anaesthesia”. Thames Medical grew a dedicated Veterinary Anaesthesia Monitoring arm. Shortly later I was invited to join the Association Of Veterinary Anaesthetists.
We changed the way we do anaesthesia today, and for that I will always be thankful to Polly!
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