In 1997 I was diagnosed with high blood pressure; this was controlled by me taking a number of prescribed tablets. Upon returning home after a long haul flight as part of my 50th birthday celebrations I became increasingly short of breath with a persistent harsh cough, not ideal with my work as a Police Officer.
Benefiting from access to private medical insurance, I was able to see various consultants in a number of hospitals. My wife Ann is a sister working in our local hospital and she was able to understand and push for a diagnosis.
All tests and examinations revealed that I was suffering with Primary Pulmonary Hypertension, with an added complication of an arterial/venous malformation in my left lung. This means that blood shunts through my left lung without picking up oxygen, leaving me very short of breath.
I was informed by the doctors that no cure was available and only a heart and lung transplant was viable. I was tissue typed for a suitable match to be found and was told that I would need this surgery within 2 years.
It was then a consultant informed me that a new clinic treating people with my condition had been formed in the Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield to which I was referred. There I received medication to stabilise my condition. I was also given clear advice as to holiday travel which included oxygen needed upon a flight if travelling abroad.
In 2000 my wife and I decided to travel to Italy using coach and rail travel thus avoiding the need for oxygen. It was during this holiday that I became extremely ill and was transferred by emergency ambulance to Genoa Hospital. I was suffering with a large bleed in my left lung causing the lung to collapse. This required a chest drain to re-inflate the lung. My wife liaised with the Hallamshire Hospital and after a number of weeks in intensive care I was stable enough to be transferred to England via an air ambulance with medical staff with me, with a proviso that the aircraft did not exceed a low altitude flight path.
Upon arrival in England I was transferred to the intensive care unit at the Hallamshire where Dr Kiely commenced my intravenous Iloprost therapy and after a few days my condition had greatly improved. In order to receive the Iloprost at the dosage required, a Hickman Line was inserted. My Hickman Line goes under the skin in my upper chest and delivers the drug into a large blood vessel. The Iloprost is administered via a syringe and pump system which is attached to the Hickman Line. The drug is infused over a 24 hour period after which the infusion must be renewed.
I have been using this therapy for the past 8 years in conjunction with a continuous oxygen requirement. Every 6 months or so I attend the Hallamshire to be assessed. I have had a few problems but the Hallamshire and Dr Kiely have managed to overcome all these issues and long may it continue.
My home life is restricted but we have managed to overcome most things as best as we can, including my ughter Stephanie who is now a Doctor in Birmingham.