My story starts back in 1966 when I was 20, my father was taken ill at work and died the following day. He was just 50 years of age and it was subsequently established he died of a burst aorta. He left behind a wife and five children.  

In 1999, my brother Frank was taken ill and was blue lighted to Northwick Park. After numerous tests and nothing significant found, a young doctor asked about our family history. On hearing about Dad, he arranged for immediate transfer to Harefield and whilst my brother was on his way to Harefield, Magdi Yacoub was also heading there from his home.  

Neither I nor Frank had heard of Magdi before my brother was transferred to Harefield. We actually thought Frank wouldn't make it, but the staff assured us "the best in the business" was on his way from home. None of us will ever forget him. 

Magdi operated within a couple of hours and Frank's life was saved after surgery that lasted all day. Due to the added complication of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Frank spent a further five weeks in ITU. We visited every day and the Harefield staff became an extension of my family.  

As a direct result, and the fact we were a large family, we were all invited to join Dr Child's research into Marfan syndrome. Every year from 1999 I attended Harefield and had an Echocardiogram, ECG and sometimes a chest x-ray whilst the valve was being monitored.  

Apart from a slight shortness of breath, I didn’t have any other symptoms, but in 2007 I was introduced to Professor Dreyfus and told the time had come for surgery. 

I had open-heart surgery to replace my dilated aortic root in February 2008 under Professor Dreyfus and his team, and aided by Dr Raja. Once again, the staff throughout were absolutely first class during my stay of around seven days. I recall barely being able to walk for a few days after surgery. I would walk down the corridor from the ward, very slowly, and then realise I didn't have the energy to walk back again. But once recovered, my shortness of breath definitely improved. 

My memory is fading now as I age but I will never forget how wonderful the staff at Harefield were, my special memory of Hannah Robin, Anne Jackman and of course Dr Raja. I still attend Harefield every year for tests and discussion with consultants to monitor my progress and I simply love spending time there.  

I could write a book about my experiences with the hospital since 1999, some amusing stories, some scary, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. 

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