When he was a teenager, Mark Pitney had a passion to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, who worked as a panel beater/craftsman. Fortunately, his father, who was the first professor of medicine at St George Hospital and his mother, a nuclear technician, steered him towards medicine - a path which led to him repairing damaged hearts, rather than cars. Dr Pitney, of Blakehurst, who is the director of cardiology at Sutherland Hospital, has been recognised for his work with the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours. The award was so unexpected he was worried the email advice was a scam. Suspicion gave way to unease when he read the attached list of "my alleged achievements". "What struck me was that they were all things in which I worked with others," he said. "For instance, the establishment of the cardiac catheter laboratory at Sutherland Hospital about 15 years ago, which was critical for the people of the shire, was due to a group of doctors and community representatives being able to convince the government. "More recently, the development of cardiac services at the hospital has only happened because of the dedication of so many people, including other cardiologists, anaesthetists, ED and ICU teams, nurses and administrators." Dr Pitney said Sutherland Hospital was the only non-major teaching hospital in Sydney designated as a heart attack centre. "Time is of the essence when someone has a heart attack," he said. "Paramedics can do an ECG, transmit it to the phone of the on-duty cardiologist, who has to call them within three minutes to discuss the circumstances. "If it is after hours, all the on-call staff drive in while the paramedics are retrieving the patient to save time. "If it is in hours, a theatre can be cleared so the patient virtually bypasses ED and goes straight to surgery. "This can cut an hour out of the process and save lives and heart muscle. It means people who live in the shire get the best possible heart attack treatment " Another of Dr Pitney's achievements was founding in 2010 what is known in cardiology circles as "the air crash Investigation of cardiology" - an annual meeting where cardiologists get together for training in avoiding complications. Dr Pitney said, "All I did was plant the seed, but it wouldn't happen if cardiologists from around Australia weren't prepared to stand up in front of 500-600 people and talk about cases that didn't go well and discuss what can be done to deal with similar cases in the future". Dr Pitney grew up on the north shore and attended St Ignatius College Riverview. Dr Pitney's father, Professor William (Bob) Pitney, was Dean of Medicine at the University of NSW and a practicing haematologist at St George Hospital, where a building is named in his honour. Professor Pitney was made an AO (Officer in the Order of Australia) in 1984, coinciding with his son's graduation in medicine from the UNSW. Tragically, Professor Pitney died from cancer 18 months later. Dr Pitney said his father, who was president of the Australian and International haematology societies, was an "unbelievable doctor" and had a big influence on him. "I have always liked working with my hands, even when I was at university, and worked as a backyard mechanic. I had 10-15 cars I serviced and repaired," he said. "That's why, in cardiology, I was attracted to the operative side and started in the field of balloons and stents when it was in its infancy. "I'm really just a glorified plumber." Dr Pitney said his wife Maria ensured "I keep my feet on the ground". "She is my best friend, sounding board and mentor. She once told me, 'Behind most successful men are pretty surprised wives'." The couple have two daughters. Kate is training to be a paediatrician at the Children's Hospital at Westmead and Sarah is a lawyer, who has worked with the war crimes tribunal in The Hague and is now a prosecutor in the ACT. Dr Pitney said, "I am proud of my girls' achievements. As a special bonus, shortly I will have five grandchildren under the age of three and a half, and they are the light of my life".