HCA UK are committed to the care and improvement of human life, and we offer personalised treatment that pushes boundaries to get patients the recovery and the life they want.

In some instances, patients want what initially seems impossible – after life-changing injuries, some of our patients want a return not just to a healthy life, but to the elite performance they’ve worked for their entire lives.

As reported in The Times, in early September 2022, Nick Isiekwe, Saracens rugby player, lay on an operating table at London Bridge Hospital undergoing open-heart surgery, having been diagnosed with a dilated aorta, the major blood vessel carrying high-pressure oxygenated blood from the heart. Isiekwe’s aorta had swollen dangerously; it should have been no wider than 3.8cm but had reached 5cm.

In his interview with The Times, Nick shared his experience: “It was a scary time,” Isiekwe said. “There was a real sense of, ‘This problem is real. This problem is big’.

The gratitude I have for this man is incredible,” Isiekwe says. “We play sport and people like to watch but it is guys like Conal Austin who save people’s lives. They are the real heroes. The things these guys can do is mind-blowing.

The procedure performed by  Austin - personalised external aortic root support (Pears) - is not yet approved by the FDA in the United States but it has been used in more than 840 people in the world since it was invented 19 years ago.

Nick Isiekwe is believed to be the first professional athlete to return to sustained elite contact sport after surgery for a dilated aorta. He was back playing for Saracens before Christmas, within four months of having his breastbone split open.

I was astonished,” Austin says. “I tell my surgical colleagues all around the world about this. They say that to return to elite level contact sport so soon after major cardiac surgery and to represent England was unique.” As Nick said, “Conal Austin is doing unbelievable work which hasn’t had enough attention. It’s revolutionary. I honestly can’t thank him enough.

This is a summary of the article that appeared in The Times. To read the full article, with more details about Nick’s recovery follow the link below.



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