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Shelia Smith with patient Vera Page Web

A patient who was just 20 years old when the NHS started has praised the care and treatment she received at the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre.

Vera Page had a procedure last week to replace a heart valve after she experienced severe breathlessness and other symptoms.

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is a non-surgical alternative to open heart surgery. It involves a catheter being inserted into an artery in the groin and passed up to the heart, while the patient is under sedation and local anaesthetic.  A balloon on the tip of the catheter inflates to help open the aortic valve, so a new tissue valve can be put in place.

Vera said: “I stayed awake and I remember all of the procedure. I was up and about the next day and I feel fine.

“The care has been absolutely marvellous. I cannot fault it; everyone is so happy and kind.”

Vera, a keen gardener and lover of knitting and crochet, was 20 years old when the NHS was launched and her family have has need of its services over the years.

She said: “When I was about eight years old, I remember my older sister being sent into Norwich city for medicine for my dad and I assume we had to pay for it.”

Since then, partly thanks to the NHS, Vera has three children, 10 grandchildren and two great-children, with a third due imminently. The health service has also cared for her children through various illnesses and her late husband, who died 23 years ago of prostate cancer.

She said: “The NHS has definitely looked after my loved ones. My breathing was becoming such hard work, walking to my garden gate was too much effort. One doctor told me I might end up housebound. Now I’ve had this procedure, I hope I can see my granddaughter on WhatsApp and blow her some kisses.”

The TAVI procedure was designed especially for older patients, over the age of 85, with an average three day stay in hospital.

Shelia Smith, TAVI nurse, said: “Vera has been a real pleasure to look after. It’s amazing to think she was 20 when the NHS began.”

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  • Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
    Nethermayne, Basildon
    Essex  SS16 5NL
    Switchboard: 01268 524900

  • The Essex Cardiothoracic Centre
    Nethermayne, Basildon
    Essex SS16 5NL
    Switchboard: 01268 524900

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