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Beating Heart Operation Due At Waikato Hospital

Beating Heart Operation Due At Waikato Hospital

A 78-year-old Thames man due to have an aortic valve replacement done through a small incision in the chest on a beating heart last week, will undergo the operation at Waikato Hospital sometime this week.

Noel Howard was prepped and ready for the operation last Wednesday but his operation was cancelled when Otorohanga woman Ailsa Fleming, 86, died on the operating table due to a rare complication.

Media reports that the operation is to take place today (Wednesday) at Waikato Hospital are incorrect.

Dr Anson Cheung, surgical director of cardiac transplantation at the Providence Heart and Lung Institute at St Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, is to oversee the operation. He is still in Australia where he assisted surgeons successfully there with the same procedure. Leading the surgery at Waikato are cardiothoracic surgeon Nand Kejriwal and cardiologist Sanjeevan Pasupati.

Mr Howard authorised me to release the following statement on his behalf.

Mr Howard met Mrs Fleming not long before her operation because the surgeons spoke to them both about the procedure. Both sets of families were present during the briefing.

"You feel for people and you get to know them and I got to know her. She was a lovely lady. I was at the door to go in. I knew there was something drastically wrong. She was such a lovely lady. You can only feel for her family really. We had it explained to us. I've got the same risk. I've got the best hands in the world looking after me."

Mr Howard said he was determined to go ahead with the operation.

"I want to get out walking again. I want a better quality of life."

Mr and Mrs Howard recently sold their house on the hill overlooking Thames and now live in a retirement village right on the beach where they have access to snooker, darts and outdoor bowls.

"I haven't been able to bowl for five to six weeks.

"They've told me straight I can't have open heart surgery," he said.

"Dr Pasupati is a phenomenal man. I have great faith in him. He was that pleased he was going to be able to help me."

Mr Howard's wife and family support his decision to go ahead. Aortic stenosis is the most prevalent heart valve disease in the western world.

About 120 patients a year present at Waikato Hospital with aortic stenosis. This is a condition where the main outflow valve from the heart thickens and does not open fully. As all the blood leaving the heart has to go through this valve, severe narrowing of the valve causes restricted blood flow to the rest of the body.

Restricted blood flow puts a strain on the heart and eventually causes breathlessness, chest pain, blackouts, and heart failure.


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