Keeley had initially kept her heart journey to her nearest and dearest, but in bravely taking the step to document what she was going through in a blog, she became connected to a whole network of heart warriors. This online community became Keeley’s cheer team and support network. They checked in on her every step of her journey, to fix a heart condition she never knew she had. 

The moral of my story is, if something doesn’t feel right, get it checked out. If it hadn’t been for the advice of my Nan, I could have gone on to have a heart attack

Working at the airport was a very physical job. Keeley was on her feet for nine hours a day, regularly walking up and down five flights of stairs to get where she needed to be. Keeley counted steps, watched her weight and although she should have been feeling fitter, she was getting more exhausted.  

Keeley talked to her Nan about her symptoms who told her it could be her heart and to go and get checked out. Initially, Keeley was misdiagnosed with asthma and despite using her inhaler, her breathlessness did not go away. So, Keeley came back to her local hospital and took a stress test. It was clear, under exertion, Keeley’s body was not performing as it should.  

Her specialist started to prescribe drugs and told her that there was a problem with her heart. But the severity of the situation didn’t sink in, for the most part, Keeley felt ok. She was booked in for an angiogram and the results showed a blockage had been discovered in her heart, in a particularly difficult place to work on. Keeley’s local hospital consulted with Harefield, performed an angioplasty and had inserted stents a few days later.  

In a one in 25,000 chance, Keeley’s femoral artery was ruptured during the procedure; there was a 3% chance the plugs used to fill this rupture would fail, but they did too. Blood left Keeley’s body rapidly and she was blue lighted to the Royal Free Hospital where they had four minutes to save her life. 

The next day after this life-saving surgery, Keeley had three ‘attacks’ at the Royal Free. “I couldn’t breathe, it felt like someone was sitting on my chest, my arms went numb and I couldn’t move. I felt paralysed” Keeley returned to her local hospital due for another angiogram, but thankful that it didn’t go ahead as she’d already been through so much. Keeley was sent home to recover. 

Once Keeley had been home again for some time and could walk a little, she took a short trip away with her husband. Walking from the car park to the hotel reception, she soon realised she felt worse than before her stent procedure. She was taking a spray to relieve her symptoms but felt so exhausted moving anywhere, that on return home she finally managed to get readmitted to the hospital. 

“I believe everything happens for a reason. While waiting for tests to find out what was wrong with me, I had another three of those ‘attacks’ in my local hospital. They couldn’t help at this stage and I was rushed to Harefield. I just felt so relieved! I knew of Harefield’s reputation; I knew they were a pioneering heart hospital - my prayers were answered” 

“Dr Richard Grocott-Mason did my angiogram. When I learnt he was one of the Hospital’s Directors, I felt so happy, I was getting the best person possible to do it. I explained my anxiety to him, given what had happened following my stent procedure and he was very reassuring. I didn’t feel the angiogram at all, but the bad news was I would need a single heart bypass” 

Keeley was in Harefield for a total of six weeks, taking tests daily to monitor her heart and find the best possible course of action. “some people might complain about being in hospital for so long, but for me, I felt confident I was being tested for everything and that I'd have the most appropriate surgery” 

As Harefield was away from home, Keeley only had a few visitors a week, but every member of staff took time out to chat with her. From the clinical staff to those that brought the tea, the cleaners and the volunteers “I’m truly thankful for everyone there. They really went above and beyond. On the morning of my surgery, some staff from another ward came to hug me and wish me well. It meant so much to me” 

Keeley's case was discussed by a team of cardiologists, and following an IVUS scan (intravascular Ultrasound) it became clear that what Keeley actually needed was a triple heart bypass. On the 18th July 2019, Keeley had her surgery and five days later was discharged home, in time for her wedding anniversary.  

A year on and Keeley is feeling so much better physically. “I just want to live my best life now. On the anniversary of my by-pass, my husband and I went to the seaside, my happy place and it was perfect” 

I get so many messages saying thank you on my blog. There are people who I’ve helped come to terms with their own surgeries and I’ve helped them understand what they could expect. They thank me for keeping it real. That’s why I continue my blog, I want to give that level of support back to the online community that helped me through this. I’m not sure how I’d have got through it without them

Inspired by the care our cardiology teams at Harefield afford each and every patient? You can donate to help us buy state-of-the-art equipment to support their work. Find out more about our Lifeline Lab Appeal