Donald's in good heart
HE was the first at the Conquest Hospital to receive radical new treatment for his heart condition.
Now Donald Rathcliff, of St Peter's Crescent, is back home after spending months recovering from illness and recuperating at Bexhill Hospital's Irvine Unit.
With him at all times is the slim bag containing the equipment which delivers drugs to his heart 24 hours a day - a syringe driver on a pic line.
Donald, 86, was admitted to the Conquest back in July, having suffered heart problems since 1996.
"They think I had a stroke, which gave me an enlarged heart," he said.
"Part of the heart had died and withered, and only about a third of it is now working. My health deteriorated over the last two years"
His body could not deal with the diuretic pills needed to clear his body of fluid so when this new course of action was suggested he felt it was his only option.
"There is an insertion in the arm, then the tube goes into the vein and up into the shoulder then straight into the heart. It delivers diuretics straight into the blood stream on a 24 hour feed.
"It's the first time they have gone in through the vein into the heart. I was the first one to try it out so I am quite pleased really. But there was no alternative for me. I would have had to keep going back to the Conquest for them to get the fluid out of me on a big machine."
"But now I can bend my legs up again, and I have got ankles like a ballet dancer now. My appetite is better now too."
"I have been looked after very well. I think it was experimental - they hadn't done one before but they had to do it or I would have died. I had no choice. I think they have done two or three since then."
Wife Maureen commented; "Three months ago we were phoned to be told he was dying, and he would probably die that night. I slept in my clothes. Now look at him ... he is comfortable - tired, but comfortable."
Back home a week now, Donald is settling down to life as normal and has been out shopping and even cooking for a barbecue.
Palliative care nurse specialist Pauline Ablett of the Irvine Unit commented:
"Taking his necessary medication orally was not effective, but now that it's being given intravenously he is getting the maximum benefits from the drug. Having the pic line has enabled it to be delivered that way, and let him be cared for at home rather than coming in and out of hospital.
"It really is a different way of delivering the drug to enable him to stay at home rather than be hospitalised. That is the essence of it - as pure and simple as that." H40022