Dr Rhona Mahony, Master at the National Maternity Hospital, spoke with Myles Dungan on RTÉ’s The History Show last night, in which she recounted the history of giving birth in Dublin in the 20th Century.
At the end of the interview they talked about the future of medicine.
Myles Dungan: “This is not a history show type of question but would you like to gaze into your crystal ball and tell us what will be the next major breakthrough in obstetrics?”
Rhona O’Mahony: “It’s almost there: why women got into labour? It’s unbelievable.”
Dungan: “Why women go into labour?”
O’Mahony: “So we know so many things but, I’ve just been over to Boston and I gather that’s hot off the press, it’s related to free foetal DNA and the increase of which causes labour. That’s going to have a huge impact because we need to know why women go into labour early because premature birth causes 75% of our deaths in babies and also 50% of the long-term disease. I think the other big things will be genetics. I think medicine will get very different actually. I think it’s going to be a real case of it getting very personal. So, in other words, you’ll be born, you’ll have your genome identified, you’ll work out all the diseases that you’re likely to have in the future. You’ll be vaccinated against all the infectious diseases, you’ll be operated on, and it won’t be done by someone in Amsterdam because it’ll be done by a robot and you’ll be able to have consults all over the world and you’ll have all kinds of surgeons all over the world. Your iPhone will do a lot of your medicine for you. You’ll get your ECG, maybe you’ll get an app for testing your blood sugars, you’ll send it all off into your doctor, you’ll take a picture of the mole on your arm that you don’t like, you’ll send that in and you’ll get an opinion on it. Instead of a colonoscopy, you’ll just swallow the iPill and you’ll send the photographs to your phone and you know, “Does my colon look big in this?” – what a selfie that will be. So it will be very different. Prosthesis will be better than original limbs so maybe you’ll have a Special Olympics for the prostheses but the technology is already there. So it’s all going to be about how do we apply this technology into current medicine that’s going to be very personal.”
Dungan: “Oh brave new world to have such apps in it.”
Listen back in full here