In January, Kelly’s husband Tony sadly passed away. In this blog Kelly shares their experience of care at Royal Brompton.

Tony’s journey with Royal Brompton started in 1971. He had been born with a hole in his heart and transposition of the great arteries. Tony had a small corrective surgery just 18 hours after his birth and later open-heart surgery at two years old. The Worthing Gazette, their local newspaper, reported this story at the time. Janet, Tony’s mother, told them: “The surgeons had told us that this was one of the most difficult operations and hadn’t held out very high hopes for its complete success.”

Royal Brompton went on to play a huge part in their family’s life following this surgery. Kelly said: “Tony reached 50 years although at the time they didn’t think he would make it to ten years. He beat the odds, it was just unbelievable. Despite everything he went through, he was always smiling, laughing and joking and the most positive person you could ever meet.”

The staff were just amazing and a lot of them knew Tony. The porters, the housekeeping teams, the nurses, would always stop to have a laugh and a joke with him as he visited Paul Wood ward.

On one of their many visits to Royal Brompton, both Kelly and Tony made a heart to be placed within a mosaic in the hospital’s courtyard. He has left his mark on the hospital, as well as the hospital making a difference to his life.

In January 2019, Tony had a cardiac arrest on the operating table at the Royal Brompton. His life was saved and he spent a week in a coma. Kelly was at his side every day and the staff went above and beyond to support her through this difficult time. The nurses stopped and chatted to her, they found a bed where she could stay near to him and helped her complete a journal of her time watching over her husband.

They were so lovely. I felt as though they were looking after me as much as they were Tony.

Writing the journal gave Kelly something to focus on. “I wrote down everything that happened each day, who the nurses were and took photographs to remember what had happened, so that when he woke up he could look through it. At the time I would never have remembered everything that had happened.”

The day after he had been woken up, Tony was keen to start walking and work on his rehabilitation. He walked around the ward practicing and building up his strength so he could climb the stairs to their flat. Tony was determined to get on with life.

Sadly, in January 2022 following another cardiac arrest, Tony passed away. The family created a celebration for his funeral with pop music and colour that reflected his positive outlook on life. They asked for donations to our Charity and the British Heart Foundation. “His parents, Reg and Janet, his sister Jill and I would like to thank Royal Brompton for everything they have done for Tony,” said Kelly. “In the future, I want to raise some more money for Royal Brompton to thank them for the lifetime of care he received.”

Tony was unable to become a paramedic, which he dreamed of doing, but dedicated his life to helping others. He used his medical knowledge as a volunteer for St John Ambulance and worked as a coroner’s officer. As stipulated in his will, Tony’s heart has been donated to Professor Mary Sheppard at St George’s Hospital. His legacy will be the lives he has made brighter, and his selfless dedication to improving care and treatment for people with heart disease.

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