Coffs Harbour is leading Australia in caring for patients with heart attacks – and Ron Hicks is one who has benefited.
Coffs Harbour is leading Australia in caring for patients with heart attacks – and Ron Hicks is one who has benefited. Rob Wright

Ron saved by new heart surgery

RON Hicks almost did not reach his 40th birthday, courtesy of a heart attack he never expected to happen.

But thanks to a local hospital unit which is now leading Australia in the care of heart attack patients, today his heart is fully functional and he has been cleared to play soccer this season.

When Mr Hicks woke up at 2am one Sunday night late last year with pins and needles in his fingers and a massive pain in his hand after a busy day shovelling mud out of his flooded workplace, he thought he had simply overdone things and pulled a muscle in his neck.

Even though he felt even worse by breakfast time, with hot and cold flushes and ‘my whole body going downhill’, he went to work, where his workmates persuaded him to go to hospital, telling him he might have had a heart attack.

Once he reached the Emergency Department of the Coffs Harbour Health Campus, he was monitored; had blood tests and was admitted for a cardiac angiogram which showed he had lost 51 per cent of the capacity of his heart, with a massive blood clot blocking the left side.

But in the first suction catheter operation of its kind performed in the city, Coffs Harbour’s new interventional cardiologist Dr David Henderson removed the clot and stented open the blocked coronary artery.

Three days later, Ron Hicks was out of hospital.

Coffs Harbour is one of the first regional centres in Australia to have a full-time onsite interventional cardiologist.

Working with the hospital’s cardiac angiography unit, which performs coronary angiography and inserts cardiac stents in patients with heart disease, cardiologists Dr Henderson and Dr Jon Waites, who have now been joined by Dr Tanya Stewart, are achieving better results for Coffs Coast patients than Sydney hospitals can achieve, including one of the lowest complication rates in NSW.



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