When Arnold Reye, 79, sat for scans last year in preparation for vital heart surgery, he did not expect to be told that his body was riddled with cancer. The shock diagnosis meant surgery had to wait and chemotherapy had to start immediately. The news shook his tight-knit family including his only child Rowena Richardson, who feared they had to prepare for the worst.
“We’re such a close family with Mum and Dad living next door to us. Our three children were practically raised by them while my husband and I both worked,” Rowena said. “My dad is a really wonderful person. It was a tough time for all of us.”
After responding well to chemo and gene therapy, Arnold became well enough early his year to continue plans for heart surgery to correct another potentially life threatening condition – aortic stenosis. Aortic stenosis is the abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve,
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impeding delivery of blood from the heart to the body. With this condition, Arnold suffered chest pain, fainting, shortness of breath and was at risk of heart failure.
Arnold was restricted from enjoying his once active lifestyle including morning and evening walks.
"My stenosis in my aortic valve became a big problem for me. I found it hard to walk, it affected my sleep – I kept losing my breath," Arnold said. "It came as an enormous relief to me, when it was decided I was well enough (from cancer) to proceed with correcting my stenosis."
Wound healing complications from previous cardiac surgery and the subsequent treatment he needed for his prostate cancer meant that open heart surgery was not an option for Arnold’s condition. Luckily for Arnold, cardiologists at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital had the option to perform critical surgery using the high-tech procedure called TAVI (transcatheter aortic valve implantation) that allows a patient to undergo a less invasive operation to insert a new valve.
“The whole process of registering, being transferred from wards… can be a stressful period, but at St Andrew’s everything just seemed like a seamless process – there was no stress in it,” Arnold said. “The nurses were simply fantastic and while I was in the ICU (intensive care unit) I couldn’t have asked for better care.”
Arnold has since made a full recovery from the TAVI procedure, which has successfully corrected his aortic stenosis. “The biggest thing for me is I can walk without feeling out of breath,” he said.
Rowena says they are all truly grateful to St Andrew’s for helping her beloved dad overcome a major health hurdle so he can continue to enjoy his life with his family and grandchildren. Arnold also continues to respond strongly to his prostate cancer treatment.
Learn how you can donate to one of our life-saving services Arnold back to his normal life at standrewshospital.com.au/donate