The National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) has its origins in the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), and Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).

Before the Japanese Occupation of 1942-45, doctors were not specialised in fields such as cardiology.

After the war, as living conditions improved and more patients developed heart diseases, doctors started to focus on treating them.

Here are the milestones in the development of heart services and the NHCS:

1959: The first heart operation was performed at SGH. 

1966: Pioneer heart surgeons were transferred from SGH to TTSH, to form its Department of Cardiothoracic and Thoracic Surgery.

1973: The Department of Cardiovascular Medicine was created at TTSH to gather pioneering cardiologists.

Dr B.A. Johan, now a senior physician with the NHC's cardiology department, had to set up the department from scratch. The greatest challenge, he recalled, was enlisting young, trainee doctors.

1976: The first heart bypass was done at TTSH.

1981: Both TTSH heart departments were moved to a rebuilt SGH, which became the main specialist centre.

1985: SGH cardiologists carried out its first angioplasty, which involves clearing a blocked artery by inserting a long, flexible tube equipped with a balloon.

1990: Singapore's first heart transplant was performed by surgeons at SGH.

1994: The Singapore Heart Centre was set up as the main centre for heart disease. Cardiac services were moved there from SGH.

It was renamed the National Heart Centre in 1998.

2000: The first lung transplant was carried out here by doctors from NHC, SGH and the National Cancer Centre.

2001: The first heart pump - a device to temporarily take over the functions of a failing heart - was implanted by the NHC in a patient here.

2002: The NHC inserted the first drug-coated stent - a tiny wire mesh tube covered with a drug to prevent an artery from reclogging - in a patient's artery.

2005: The NHC performed its first robotic surgery. Surgeons used a robot to remove a tumour from an 18-year-old boy's chest.

2008: The NHC celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.