Every Wednesday for more than seven years, St Andrew’s volunteer Adrian has been giving heart surgery patients a helping hand.
Inspired by his own experience, Adrian joined the volunteer team at St Andrew’s after spending more than two months in hospital in 2014.
“I was extremely sick after returning home from a trip to France with my wife and ended up in the Intensive Care Unit at St Andrew’s,” Adrian said.
“Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to us at the time, I had picked up a serious bug and by the time I arrived home I was becoming very unwell,” he said.
When Adrian was unable to get out of bed one morning after returning to Australia, he was sent for urgent tests, including an x-ray which showed a shadow on his lungs.
“After that I was pretty quickly transferred to St Andrew’s. Fluid was building up on my lungs and I was struggling to breathe. At the same time, they also found that my heart valves were leaking and needed to be replaced,” Adrian said.
“My heart was only pumping at 20 per cent at that time.
“The doctors knew I needed to have surgery to repair and replace my leaking heart valves, but I wasn’t well enough to have the surgery. They had to find and treat whatever was making me so sick first,” he said.
The team at St Andrew’s found bacteria had infected Adrian’s lungs before attacking his heart.
Doctors tried several different antibiotics to fight the bacteria and help Adrian recover enough for surgery.
“Eventually, I was fit enough to go to theatre to have my aortic valve replaced and mitral valve repaired,” Adrian said.
“I lost more than 20 kilograms and needed antibiotics for several weeks after, as well as a long stay in rehabilitation at St Andrew’s to help build up my physical strength and to mentally get me back to my normal self.”
After leaving hospital, Adrian kept up his rehabilitation as an outpatient at The Wesley Hospital and that’s when he heard about the opportunity to become a hospital volunteer.
One year later, he found his perfect match supporting other cardiac patients at St Andrew’s.
“I really enjoy volunteering at St Andrew’s. Different people come from all over to St Andrew’s for heart surgery, so I’ve had the opportunity to meet many different people,” Adrian said.
“We talk and share stories, tips and advice. I share my experience and anything I can about what to expect. I also help patients to think of questions to ask their treating team, things they might forget to ask while they are recovering in hospital.
“I enjoy helping others get through their surgery. It’s a shock to the system and a very big experience to go through, so I’m glad I can use my experience to help others get through theirs, even if only in a small way.”
Find out more about volunteering at St Andrew's.