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Life-saving heart surgery

David's life saving heart surgery

David's story

I spoke to my insurer on the Tuesday, I was in London seeing Mr. Deshpande on the Thursday with my surgery scheduled for the following Monday. After months of waiting, I was so relieved that it was finally happening, but it did come as a shock to be admitted and scheduled for surgery with such urgency.

Here is David's story

It was Spring 2018 when working in his fields that David Curtis, a 66-year-old Farmer from Hereford suffered a heart attack and was rushed to his local hospital for urgent treatment. Given his history, when David started experiencing further chest pains in February 2019, he knew right away he needed to seek further medical advice. His journey to a diagnosis and treatment in his local area would be a long one.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 meant that waiting lists for care on the NHS increased, as did waiting times in smaller private hospitals in some regions.

It was not until November 2020 that David was finally able to get the angiogram he needed. It revealed he had heart disease, otherwise known as coronary artery disease. This is caused when the heart's blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.

David needed a triple heart bypass, but by this time the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic had hit, dealing another blow in his journey to access treatment. In February 2021 he decided to use his private health insurance with AXA PPP to get faster access to care locally.

Of his experience David said,

"It felt like I was continuously hitting a brick wall” after three locally planned operations were cancelled due to lack of availability as small private hospitals continued to be impacted by delays."

Time was of the essence

David was becoming increasingly worried,

"I knew I had a serious condition and that I needed this procedure sooner rather than later. It was on my mind constantly and my quality of life was impacted due to the pain I was in."

Faced with this, his insurer contacted HCA UK’s Rapid Response Referral team, part of the Concierge Centre, to see what it could do. The Rapid Response Referral team specialises in getting patients with time-critical and complex care needs into HCA UK hospitals and consultants, quickly. Responding within hours to requests from doctors, insurers and patients, the team manage the entire process of getting a patient the treatment and advice they need.


Bernie Phelan, and her team in Rapid Response Referral were immediately on the case.

"David had already faced a long wait for his care and getting him to see a specialist was a priority, which we were able to do within 24 hours of speaking to his insurer."


David was seen by Mr Ranjit Deshpande, a Cardiothoracic Surgeon at London Bridge Hospital. New echo scans revealed that David needed an even more complex procedure, a quadruple heart bypass and a repair to his left ventricle, a chamber of the heart that pumps out blood into the circulatory system.

"I was incredibly concerned by David’s condition. It was clear he was not fit to return home until his heart was treated and I admitted him as inpatient right away and scheduled his surgery." said Mr. Deshpande.


The urgency of the situation came as surprise to David and his wife Christine who were taken back by the seriousness of it and how quickly it had happened. 

"I spoke to my insurer on the Tuesday, I was in London seeing Mr. Deshpande on the Thursday with my surgery scheduled for the following Monday. After months of waiting, I was so relieved that it was finally happening, but it did come as a shock to be admitted and scheduled for surgery with such urgency. Bernie and the team as well as everyone at London Bridge Hospital were an incredible support though, ensuring I had everything I needed as well as providing support to Christine."

Life-saving surgery

On 8th March, David had a quadruple heart bypass, otherwise known as a coronary artery bypass graft or CABG. The procedure involves taking a blood vessel from another part of the body and attaching it to the coronary artery above and below the area that has been narrowed or is blocked.

This new blood vessel is known as a graft. The number of grafts needed will depend on how severe the coronary heart disease is and how many of the coronary blood vessels are narrowed.

Eight days after his operation, David was discharged home. He is continuing to recovery from the major operation but is hopeful that he will be back to life as normal soon. Nine weeks post-op he has made good progress and started to drive again; Bernie and her team are still checking in with him and Christine.

Of his experience at London Bridge Hospital and the Rapid Response Referral service David said,

"I really cannot thank the whole team enough; the surgery saved my life, and I am deeply grateful to all involved. As well as outstanding clinical care, the support from Bernie to me and my family went above and beyond."

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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