Despite having problems with his heart previously, Graham (80) had been enjoying a full life with his wife and children since retirement; taking holidays and seeing the world. However, when his health deteriorated towards the end of 2019, he was given the news no one wants to hear: that he had months to live.  

"I sat and looked at my husband before Christmas and I could see him drifting away from me, I thought he was going into dementia mode, it was awful I just didn’t know what to do" his wife Sandra remembers. Graham had started to slow right down; he found breathing, moving, and concentrating difficult. He could not even make himself a cup of tea. 

Following an echocardiogram, it was clear Graham's mitral valve was leaking again. In 2015 he had been admitted to Harefield Hospital for open-heart surgery and had a pacemaker fitted to fix this valve, but now this meant his heart would not be strong enough to withstand more invasive surgery. There was a chance he could be a candidate for a MitraClip procedure, but given his heart had already endured so much, it was uncertain whether he would survive. 

“I remember Rob Smith, Consultant interventional cardiologist at Royal Brompton and the MitraClip specialist said ‘I’m no miracle man’ but if the procedure was a success it would give me a better quality of life. I decided on the spot to get the procedure done before I’d even consulted my wife, she knew what I was going to say. The alternative was to keep going down and down and getting more miserable.” 

In Graham’s case, the procedure had a 50/50 chance of success, but it was an option both Graham and Sandra felt they had to take. "When you have to call the kids round and put it on the line for them, it's terrifying, so any option they presented to us was a total lifeline".

High spec imaging technology in the cath lab allowed clinical teams to navigate this delicate procedure and place a MitraClip into Graham's heart through a catheter in his artery. They were able to perform this surgery under local anaesthetic and with minimal trauma to his heart. Graham started to feel more like himself again within hours and three days later, was discharged. 

A week after this procedure, Sandra became ill, but Graham was able to look after her. This helped to boost his confidence again. "Ever since I've had the procedure, I feel totally different, I feel like a new man! I've got my energy back, not fully back, but I can go out walking, and I can do the hoovering and the cooking. All I can say is thank you to everybody at Harefield Hospital." 

Our Charity has recently embarked on an appeal to fundraise for the redevelopment of Cath Lab 5 at Harefield Hospital so we can help more people like Graham. To find out more about our #LifeLineLab Appeal, please click here