A VETERAN has thanked the NHS for saving his life despite the pressures on staff because of the coronavirus crisis.

Jim Gibson’s life was in jeopardy when he was admitted to Harefield Hospital in London in April suffering heart failure.

But the 84-year-old, from Stratton St Margaret, was able to receive an innovative treatment that 'clips' one of the heart's valves. He was discharged from hospital in just a few days instead of weeks.

Jim, who had regular check-ups on his heart since 1985, said: “I had a pacemaker fitted about eight years ago, but things took a turn last November when I was visiting family in Tasmania.

“I went to pick up a case, and I got a shooting pain in my chest. I knew something wasn’t right, so I booked a flight home the next day. I went straight to see my clinician and they told me I needed a procedure, but it was not widely used on the NHS.

“They sent me to Swindon to be assessed but the consultant told me they were not able to do it, but lucky for me Dr Robert Smith at Harefield Hospital was.”

Jim said despite the treatment being fairly new he had no other option.

He told the Adver: “I was hopeful that it was going to work. I had no other option, but I knew I was in good hands.

“I was taken in from home – I was a bit scared the night before, but I made it.

“I feel better. If I didn’t have this sinus problem, I’d feel like 21-year-old again. It made a big change to my life.”

Jim, who was a piper in the Highland Light Infantry, said the hospital is calling him regularly to check his recovery progress.

He added: "There is nothing I wouldn’t do for those people – nothing is too much for them. They were incredible.

“And what fantastic treatment, to be home with my family feeling like I do after just a few days is incredible. It’s bringing a tear to my eye just thinking about it.

“You only get one heart, and mine has definitely been battered around a bit, but knowing there are people like this and treatments like this is inspiring.

“Now I’m just looking forward to the new life they’ve given me with my family.”

Dr Smith said: “Timely treatment of symptomatic severe heart valve disease is critical for the life of the patient, particularly during a global pandemic where their existing condition can make them more vulnerable to contracting the virus. Our team did not hesitate to act. We proceeded with a minimally invasive treatment option that increased the possibility of the patient returning home within days rather than weeks.”

Jim is now working with heart vale disease charity Heart Valve Voice as a patient advocate.