Do you ever stop and think about your heart?
The pivotal organ many of us take for granted. Relentlessly pumping life around our bodies with each beat. We don't often stop to imagine what we would do if it wasn't working.
Friday 29th September marks #WorldHeartDay, a day that is dedicated to our precious hearts. It aims to raise awareness about cardiovascular health and to promote healthy living.
Our charity partner Heartbeat exists to ensure that people being treated at the Wessex Cardiac Centre are provided with the best possible care and support. Their work over the years has allowed them to ensure that everybody, from patients to friends and relatives; will be supported every step of the way.
To commemorate this day we are sharing Alex’s story. Who has not taken his heart for granted for a single moment.
Alexander (Alex) was born in September 1998 and after 5 days became blue and breathless and was rushed back into Winchester Hospital, where he was born. It was thought at that point that he had a very serious heart condition, so was transported at speed and ‘blue-lighted’ to the Wessex Cardiac Unit at the now University Hospital Southampton (formerly known as the ‘General’). It was there that he was diagnosed with a blocked pulmonary valve, two holes in his heart, and a faulty ventricle as well as having all his organs the wrong way round. He was given 20% chance of living.
He initially underwent a pulmonary valve replacement the following day which corrected his blood flow to his lungs meaning that blue blood was now being oxygenated and sending red blood to the rest of his body but there were other serious complications and there was an understanding that he would have undergo further surgery as he grew older.
Major open-heart surgery followed when he was 14 months, eight years old and 17 years old, all of which were life-changing and enabled Alex to live a relatively normal life but with restrictions around exercise and some sports, although he was able to partake where he felt able. The insertion of a pacemaker helped regulate his heart rhythm and aided everyday life exertions.
In May 2019, he contracted an infection through eczema in his ankle which led to life-threatening sepsis. This in turn resulted in an infection of his heart chambers (endocarditis) and subsequently another 12 hours of open-heart surgery and a mini stroke whilst in recovery. Six weeks after this, he was playing competitive Hampshire League cricket!
Throughout all of Alex’s traumas he has studied after school and college, and he gained a place at Winchester University achieving a 2:1 in Physiotherapy and graduated in Autumn 2022. Last year he also managed to secure a role as an MSK Physiotherapist at Limitless Physiotherapy and Performance in New Milton, something he absolutely loves, and he is already looking after the needs of up to 10 patients each day.
Alex, now 25 years old, is very appreciative of the support of family, friends, and colleagues alike. He has encountered his challenges, and although still under the watchful eye of the Wessex Cardiac Unit, is eternally grateful for the amazing care and treatment he has received from so many incredible surgeons, cardiologists, doctors, nurses, and other medical staff at the hospital.
He loves playing and watching sports especially golf and cricket, is an avid football fan, and loves going to the gym. He hopes that his story will be inspiring and helpful to other young people who must experience not only serious cardiac interventions and other such conditions, and as he says about his own incredibly difficult and emotional journey, he has absolutely ‘No Regrets’.
Alex is an inspiration to us all. Even with having to face so many challenges throughout his young life, he has never stopped living life to the fullest.
You may have no control over some health issues you face, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of every moment. The Wessex Cardiac Centre have been there every step of the way for Alex.
Heartbeat needs your help to ensure they can continue to raise vital funds that enable The Wessex Cardiac Centre to continue their life saving work. Without support from the local community they wouldn’t be able to support all the patients and families when they need them most.
For only £1 per week, you can play make a smile lottery regularly to help them raise these essential funds. You will be helping others just like Alex to live life to the fullest every day.
If you want to learn more about the services Heartbeat provide, head to their website below.