Brian and Shirley Weston have had four open heart surgeries between them.
Brian and Shirley Weston have had four open heart surgeries between them. Tegan Annett

Every day counts: Couple survives four heart surgeries

BRIAN and Shirley Weston have a few things in common, including that they both have a calf valve in their heart.

Since he was 45, Brian has had three open heart surgeries for four heart valve replacements, and Shirley has had one open heart surgery in 2003.

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Their most recent surgeries were completed at the Prince Charles Hospital, known as the state's premier cardiothoracic centre.

It completes more than 1200 open heart procedures per year, and an additional 80 percutaneous valve replacements, using a needle and catheter rather than opening the body.

Last year, 12 patients from Gladstone had cardiac surgery at the hospital.

The pair travels to Brisbane twice a year for check-ups.

"You always think you're the only one going through these things," Shirley said.

"I remember the first time Brian had the surgery; there was a man across from him who had a hip replacement and a doctor came and told him he had cancer.

"We came home with the attitude that each day is special, because you just don't know what's around the corner."

Mr Weston has rheumatic fever. He has had the condition since he was one-year-old.

Because of the condition he didn't walk until he was six, and eventually needed each of his surgeries.

In 2003, Brian had to take the role of the carer when Shirley had her own open heart surgery.

The Brisbane hospital is one of six hospitals across Queensland which offer open heart surgeries.

The others are the Princess Alexandra Hospital, The Wesley, St Andrews, Holy Spirit Northside and the Townsville Hospital.

Medical histories:

Brian:

  • 1983: replacement of the aorta valve with a pig valve
  • 2001: The same surgery, to replace the existing valve with a calf valve.
  • 2013: Another aorta valve replacement, and the calf valve was also replaced.

Shirley:

  • 2003: Aortic valve replaced with a calf valve. The surgery was needed due to a heart abnormality Shirley was born with.


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