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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Carlisle man's life-saving heart surgery - through a cut in his wrist

A tiny scar on Gordon Hasting’s wrist is the only remaining sign of a health scare that almost killed him.

Gordon Hastings photo
Gordon Hastings

The 67-year-old initially tried to convince himself that the chest pains which woke him in the middle of the night were down to indigestion.

But a few hours later the pain became unbearable and reality hit him – he was having a heart attack.

Gordon, a retired contracts engineer from Brunton Crescent, Carlisle, found himself in an ambulance being frantically worked on by a paramedic.

He was given a clot-busting drug then rushed to the city's Cumberland Infirmary where he remained for more than a week – until he was offered a specialist treatment at the hospital’s new heart centre.

Father-of-two Gordon, who is married to Maureen, was among the first patients to undergo angioplasty surgery when the centre opened just over a month ago.

In the past he would have had to travel to Newcastle or Blackpool – not ideal when he was already weak after the heart attack.

Then, rather than open heart surgery, lead cardiologist Roger Moore was able to fit three stents, made of tiny scaffolding to hold open blocked arteries in his heart, all through a cut in his wrist.

The procedure took about an hour-and-a-half and Gordon was awake throughout.

“It was like being in a spaceship flying to the moon. There was equipment everywhere and for medical reasons it was freezing in there so they were all wearing padded suits – like spacemen without helmets.

“They didn’t know what they would find. I had to lie still with my arms out. Between me and the surgeon was a plastic shield. They were all talking to me, asking me to move one way or the other, and reassuring me. It was fascinating.

“They fed a long straw-like thing right up my vein into my heart. I could feel it going up my arm and see my heart on the screen. They found three blocked arteries, so he called for the stents and fitted the stents there and then,” said Gordon.

“It’s life or death if someone makes a mistake, but the whole team were fantastic, especially Dr Moore. I couldn’t believe what they were doing."

Many people who have stents as a matter of routine can go home the same day but due to his recent heart attack, Gordon stayed in for a few days.

He came out on December 21 and thanks to advice from the aftercare team, Gordon, who is about to have his second children’s book published, can now walk short distances and has adopted a healthier diet and drinking regime.

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