Paediatric gastroenterologist

Neil Shah works as a paediatric gastroenterologist, which means that he is an expert who concentrates on providing care for children’s gut conditions.

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Neil Shah: Paediatric gastroenterologist (audio transcript)

Neil: “I’m Neil Shah. I’m one of what we call a paediatric gastroenterologist - that’s a children’s gut specialist at Great Ormond Street Hospital. A specialist is someone who concentrates on children’s care with one particular part of your body, so in my case that's anywhere to do with your guts from your mouth anywhere down to your bottom.

“We have a whole range of patients, children who have a problem with certain foods, children who have special allergic reactions in their bowel, children who don’t grow at all and some kids whose guts fail completely.

“Today we're gonna see a little boy called Charlie who has a condition known as coeliac's disease and we're gonna do a procedure called endoscopy or gastroscopy and what were gonna do is there’s a special camera that goes through your mouth into the intestine where we take tiny little samples. Those biopsies go off to the lab and hopefully confirm the diagnosis one way or another.”

In theatre: “So we’re just about to start our endoscopy, so we're just placing the camera, so we're now just in the mouth…”

Neil: “You train over many years to be a gastroenterologist.  As a consultant I’ve been doing it for about 10 years now and what you do is you need quite good hand skills, manual dexterity in terms of placing instruments and finding positions and you also learn over the years to recognise what you’re seeing, so there’s a lot of visual skills that are involved in today’s procedures.”

In theatre: “Now we're just coming back into the stomach the stomach looks slightly red and irritated but not too bad at all.”

Neil: “Gastroenterology is very untouched because to be honest it’s about, you know, poo. When people talk about their bowels everyone’s got a bowel story but no one really understands it. The exciting thing about Great Ormond Street is that we’ve been funded to look at that from a much greater level and that’s via our research program. Now we’re able to look at new treatments no one’s ever tried worldwide, working across the nation about problems associated with the bowel and it’s absolutely phenomenal stuff and the next 20 years are the most exciting, so it’s a great speciality to be in at the moment.”

In theatre: “As we’re sucking out to make sure we don’t bring anything near his lungs, we just pull it all the way out. So what Charlie will do now is our anaesthetist will just let him recover from the anaesthetic gases and he should be awake in the next five or 10 minutes and he’ll be recovered and probably wanting to eat in the next five or 10 minutes after that.”

Neil: “The best thing about my job is the kids; they are such a lot of fun. Also I always think it makes you really humble because you just realise what the families and the kids go through and what they are able to deal with. It makes your just think they are just truly incredible families and parents. And that’s the other thing that makes it worthwhile working here.

“If I wasn’t a gastro consultant I’d be an astronaut. I love the stars and that what I've always wanted to do apart from being a gastroenterologist.”

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