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Alan home days after major heart surgery as patients urged not to delay urgent treatment

Alan and family


WHEN Alan Brown suffered chest pain his family didn't delay in seeking medical help.

Alan said he now feels "champion" and describes himself as "really lucky".

"Going into hospital I was worried because of everything that's going on," he said. "But the nurses put my mind at ease. They said not to worry about anything as I would be on the non-COVID unit. Everybody was lovely."

His wife Paula added: "Under the current situation we could not go with him to hospital. Even though we were not there, everything was communicated to us by telephone. The staff were all amazing."

Alan and family

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is urging patients not to delay in seeking urgent medical advice because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Along with colleagues in the UK and further afield, we are really worried that patients with heart disease, strokes and other conditions are not seeking help as rapidly as they would have in the past," said Andrew.

"There has been a worrying reduction in the number of patients coming in with these conditions where timely intervention is critical to getting a good outcome.

"It is really important that people don't feel reluctant to seek medical help, be it 111, 999 or A&E, if they are unwell.

"Whilst social distancing is still very important, it is also important that when checking in with friends or family who have underlying conditions we encourage them to seek help if their symptoms are worsening.

"The hospital will of course feel very different due to COVID precautions, but it is these precautions that enable us to treat all patients safely."

The 55-year-old had to undergo major heart surgery that same night but was home four days later thanks to his rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Alan, who works in construction but is currently on furlough, was out food shopping when he first noticed something was not right.

"I was walking around the supermarket and I just felt a pain between my shoulder blade and my chest," he said.

As soon as he got home, his daughter Sophie, 26, took one look at him and knew he was not well.

"He did not look well at all, he looked grey," she said. "I called 999 and they were fantastic, they got here so fast."

Alan of Bishop Auckland was taken by ambulance to the accident and emergency department at Darlington Memorial Hospital where he had a CT scan which revealed he needed immediate specialist attention.

"We got him over here the moment we saw it," said Professor Andrew Owens, consultant cardiac surgeon at The James Cook University Hospital.

Alan had a tear in the inner lining of his aorta - the main blood vessel coming out of the heart, which is also known as aortic dissection and could have been life threatening.

"He presented to hospital that afternoon, we had him in our theatre that evening and operated on him most of the night."

The surgery was a huge success and Alan was discharged home just four days later.

"I am delighted that he came to hospital so soon after he got his chest pain," said Andrew. "The rapid diagnosis made at Darlington and subsequent transfer here undoubtedly improved his outcome.

"We have the facilities and fantastic teams here that enable us to undertake this sort of specialist surgery on any patient, day or night, so were able to rapidly get him to the operating theatre and undertake his surgery.

"His otherwise good health and rapid treatment has enabled him to make a spectacular recovery from this event and such major surgery."


Published 23rd April 2020

'The treatment I have received from all the staff has been excellent and could you extend my thanks to them all. A very thankful and relieved patient'.

Patient, Dermatology Outpatients Department, University Hospital of North Durham