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James Story

By James Green

When I was born, 24 years ago, the doctors immediately realised there was a problem with me, as I was a bluey purple colour. I was immediately rushed into theatre where I was stabilised enough to allow me to go home with my parents. Five months later I went into Great Ormond St hospital to have a transposition of the great arteries operation. That operation was a 100% success, so much so in fact that my mum said she didn't recognise me when I was brought out of theatre. I went in blue and came out pink!!!

For the next 23 years I was the picture of health. I did fairly well at school and played some sport. While I was never much good at football, rugby or any other school sport, I discovered that I was quite good at martial arts. I found it to be less reliant on speed and reserves of stamina, two things that I lack.

When people asked what those big scars on my chest were, they did not believe me that it was from heart surgery. It seems that most people, that are unaffected by heart problems, think of us heart patients should be wrapped up in cotton wool sitting on the sofa, not out leading an active lifestyle.

A little over a year ago I was told that there was another problem in my heart. The inferior vena cava was blocked and I would have to have an angioplasty. When I was told this, my whole world collapsed, I did not know what to think or to feel. It took me a long while to get my head straight.

I couldn't understand how I could lead a normal life having a blocked artery in my chest.

The doctors had no idea how long it had been blocked for. Then I realised that everything I had achieved had been done so with this problem.

That spurred me on. I was determined that whilst I was waiting for a date for the operation, I would live as if nothing was wrong, and would push myself as much as normal. For me that meant training and competing in martial arts, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to take part in the ju-jitsu world championships that were held in Brighton in October (I reached the 2nd round).

Since then I have had the angioplasty and a stent fitted. The operation was a complete success. I am anxious to start exercising again, just to see how much difference it has made.

I think it is important for people to know that just because someone has a heart condition it does not make them a weak person, we can do anything that other people can do. I think this is particularly important for parents to understand. I was lucky, my parents never considered me as being different, and they never stopped me from doing anything, even though I'm sure they weren't too keen on their 11-year-old son competing in judo tournaments. I am just realising now how much they have given me by never treating me like I was ill, because they have never thought that way, neither do I.

I would like to take this opportunity to pass my deepest thanks on to everyone in the GUCH unit at the Middlesex hospital, and particularly the nurses on Myerstein ward.

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