Tragedy turns to message of hope

George Thompson is living proof that miracles do happen.

Just five months ago a devastated George sat with his wife Jean in the hospital café at Blackpool Victoria Hospital composing a tragic farewell message to his beloved family and friends.

After years of debilitating lung problems, George’s heart was failing and he was rushed into hospital, but was not fit enough to undergo a life-saving heart bypass. His condition was so poor he was told he would not withstand a general anaesthetic.

Two of his arteries were totally blocked and his heart was functioning at about 20 per cent. He only had one functioning lung and he doubted he would see Christmas.

“I thought I was going to die,” George, 67 from Preston, explained. “Jean and I compiled a text to our family to say there was nothing the medics could do for me and I was being discharged on medication. My heart was not strong enough to survive a heart by-pass.”

“Our son, Leighton, and his wife, Laura, had just had their beautiful baby, Georgina, and all I could do when I saw her was cry. I thought that just as Georgina had come into the world I was going to go out. My lungs were shot, my heart was shot, there was no hope for me,” George added.

But then a miracle happened. Blue Skies had just funded nine, single-use, Impella Heart Pumps which can keep the blood flowing in the heart while stents are being inserted. This device meant the operation could go ahead without general anaesthetic. For a few patients like George, it can mean the difference between life and death.

The day after George and Jean compiled their heart breaking message, Consultant Cardiologist, Dr Billal Patel, went to see him on the ward to tell him that the Lancashire Cardiac Centre had just received the Impella pumps which could allow a medical team to insert the stents needed open up George’s arteries.

“I must admit at first I thought he was a nutcase,” George admitted. “I had been so depressed it was hard to process the information Dr Patel had given me. Having thought I had no hope of a future this was the news I wanted.”

Jean said she just cried when she heard the news that the team were to operate within two days. “George had been in the right place at the right time. Had his heart started to fail earlier, before the pumps had been purchased by Blue Skies, he would not have had a future.”

George underwent a five-hour operation to have nine stents fitted and now, five months on, his heart is fully recovered.

“Dr Patel said I had had the full metal jacket,” George joked. “He and his colleague, Dr Andrew Wiper, along with the cardiac team, gave me my life back and now I am filled with optimism and hope for my future.

“I was discharged the day after the operation and have now completely recovered. With the expertise of the medics at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, and these heart pumps, people with heart and lung conditions do not have to go through the worry that nothing can be done.

“I will be forever grateful to the medical team at Blackpool and Blue Skies charity who gave me my life back.”

Consultant Cardiologist, Dr Wiper added: “Mr Thompson had a very poor prognosis if his coronary disease was left untreated. Through the use of the Impella heart pump and the expertise of the Lancashire Cardiac Centre, he now has a very bright future.”