Gerard's story: Seeking help for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

After suffering from asthma-like symptoms that caused difficulty breathing and impacted his ability to perform everyday activities, Gerard Kenneally was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in Ireland. The drug treatment he'd been offered had been ineffective, so he sought further support from Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London.

Gerard rides his bike.

Prior to visiting Mayo Clinic Healthcare, Gerard was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Unfortunately, the prescribed therapy proved ineffective and his symptoms persisted. Gerard determined to gain a deeper understanding of his diagnosis and explore definitive treatment options. This led Gerard to search for the world's centre of excellence for HCM. That is when Gerard came across Mayo Clinic Healthcare.

Gerard travelled to London for a consultation with Mayo Clinic Healthcare's Dr Gosia Wamil, cardiologist consultant and assistant professor. On the same day, Gerard underwent testing and cardiac imaging, through which Dr Wamil identified an obstruction to the blood flow in his heart.

Dr Wamil promptly reached out to colleagues in the cardiology department at Mayo Clinic in the U.S. Collaborating with a team of experts across London and the U.S., they concluded that the most suitable course of action to address Gerard's condition was to remove excess muscle in the heart. When there is a need for treatment that is not available in London, Mayo Clinic seamlessly transfers patients to the U.S. Gerard was transferred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, highly distinguished for performing the procedure, called septal reduction. Gerard describes his experience at Mayo Clinic as incredibly efficient.

"All my appointments were in the app," he said. "We showed up on time, we were seen on time, we were moved around. Super professional, super friendly. Couldn't have been better."

The surgery was a success and Gerard is now able to live life to the full without any of the symptoms he previously experienced. Clare Kenneally, Gerard's wife, supported him throughout his whole journey and expressed the hope that Mayo Clinic provides for people.

"I would recommend the Mayo Clinic to others because I feel that Mayo specialise in certain things and they do a lot of it. So they're good at it," she says. "They're at the forefront of anything that's different, or new or difficult. There is hope."

Watch the video to hear Gerard's story

Gerard's finds help for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Gerard Kenneally, patient: Before I had my surgery, I was quite restricted in what I could do, and I couldn't really exert myself in any major or minor way actually. I would get asthma like symptoms and difficulty breathing. I would get out of breath literally, sometimes getting out of the car. I was diagnosed with hypertropic cardiomyopathy here in Ireland, but wasn't offered any treatment other than some drug treatment, which I really found very ineffective. Then in kind of frustration with that situation, I did what people say you shouldn't do. I went home and I Googled, Where is the world's center for HCM, the Center of Excellence? And I came across the Mayo Clinic, and that was the beginning of the journey really.

Gosia G. Wamil, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate consultant — cardiology, Mayo Clinic in London: So from my first consultations and meeting with Mr. Kenneally, it became very clear. He was very curious. He wanted to understand his diagnosis and he wanted to explore options of definitive treatment.

Annamae Kenneally, patient's daughter: I remember when he went to the Mayo Clinic in London and had testing done there and met with doctors there. Within a day, he was able to tell us really what they found was going on and he was finally being seen in a way that they also were acknowledging yes, something is not right here.

Gosia G. Wamil, M.D., Ph.D.: I'm very, very proud of having all cardiac imaging service in hand, and comparing to other places, you may have all the results within one single day here, whereas it could take a several months elsewhere.

Gerard Kenneally: They were quite quick to actually identify why I had the symptoms I had due to an obstruction in the blood flow of my heart.

Amy T. Murphy, BSN, RN, international cardiology coordinator, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, United States: My team in CV International first heard about this patient when we got a request from our London group. Once we do, we figure out which appropriate physician would be best.

Hartzell V. Schaff, M.D., cardiovascular surgeon, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, United States: Like many patients that enter the clinic now, the first meeting was by video conference that was set up through the Mayo Clinic office in London. For patients that have limiting symptoms that don't respond to medical treatment, who remain limited, as Mr. Kenneally was, the options then are going ahead with what we call septal reduction. It's open heart surgery in the usual sense, done through an incision in the front of the chest. The reason for surgery in a patient with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is to improve their symptoms because you can actually get a patient back to a relatively normal life once the outflow tract obstruction is relieved.

Gerard Kenneally: They understood my symptoms and what I was going through with it and we're confident that there was something that they could do to improve my condition. Then I was in the hands of the people who do this particular surgery more than anywhere else in the world and have a fantastic success rate with it.

Clare Kenneally, patient's wife: When we first arrived for our appointments in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, it's very organized where you need to be and what's going to happen when it's going to happen.

Gerard Kenneally: The efficiency of the set up is incredible. So all my appointments were on the app. We showed up on time, we were seen on time, we were moved around. Super professional, super friendly. Couldn't have been better.

Hartzell V. Schaff, M.D.: During the operation, we remove muscle from beneath the aortic valve to relieve that obstruction, and that's effective in relieving symptoms in 95% of patients.

Gerard Kenneally: It's been seven or eight months now since the surgery. And yeah, I'm feeling much much better. Don't suffer any of the symptoms I had previously. I'm able to do almost anything I would like to do actually. I'm very grateful for the outcome and I was very fortunate to meet the people I met along the journey.

Gosia G. Wamil, M.D., Ph.D.: Each year we see over a million patients from 140 countries. The biggest privilege working here is the opportunity of working together with specialists in the US in a collaborative way of solving a medical problem. It has been really touching to see that we offered him the second chance to regain his quality of life.

Clare Kenneally: I would recommend the Mayo Clinic to others because I feel they specialize in certain things and they do a lot of it. So they're good at it. They're at the forefront of anything that's different, or new, or difficult. There's hope

Amy T. Murphy, BSN, RN: The patient come first is a value that Mayo holds in the highest regard. We want to make your experience at Mayo Clinic as seamless as possible to get you here, to get you the help that you need.

Hartzell V. Schaff, M.D.: I think if you're in the UK and you want a second opinion, the Mayo Clinic office in London, it's absolutely the best place to go because the person has access to all of the expertise, over 4,000 specialists. So when you get a consultation in London, you're not getting just that person's experience, but you'll get the shared experience of the larger Mayo Clinic system.

From diagnosis to treatment, Mayo Clinic Healthcare has a broad range of cardiology expertise and sophisticated cardiac imaging services on-site, with patients often receiving results on the same day.

Cardiologists have access to Mayo Clinic's top-ranked clinicians in the U.S., including more than 240 experts trained in every cardiac subspecialty, which means patients get the right answers the first time.

A consultation at Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London acts as the front door to the unparalleled expertise of Mayo Clinic experts across the world.