Jean on the road to recovery following speedy valve replacement

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When 74-year-old Jean Theaker was told she needed a valve replacement she was worried she would have to wait months if not years for her procedure.

But, the retired shop assistant from North Skelton was pleasantly surprised to be told at her consultation that she’d be having her procedure the following week at The James Cook University Hospital.

 Cardiothoracic surgical ward sister Rachael Williams with Jean Theaker

Cardiothoracic surgical ward sister Rachael Williams with Jean Theaker.

It was back in April when Jean first experienced shortness of breath, which left her gasping for air and unable to go downstairs.

She quickly phoned her doctors, who due to COVID restrictions at the time called her back for a telephone consultation.

Not long after Jean was sent to Redcar Primary Care Hospital for some tests before being transferred to James Cook for a CT scan.

“After my CT scan I met Mr White, who explained to me that I needed a valve replacement,” she said.

“I thought I was going to have to wait a long time for the procedure since I’d seen on the news that people were having to wait for heart surgery because of COVID so I thought I’d be the same.

“But Mr White was like ‘no it can be next Tuesday’! I walked out of the hospital in a trance; I didn’t think I would need a valve replacement because I was always healthy and that it was going to be so soon.”

Jean returned to the Middlesbrough hospital the following week, had her valve replacement and was discharged home six days later.

“It was brilliant. The nurses, the doctors, everyone at the hospital were brilliant.”

Mr Ralph White, consultant surgeon and clinical director for cardiothoracic surgery at South Tees Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is great to hear that Jean is doing so well after her recent aortic valve replacement.

“Throughout the pandemic we have been working incredibly hard to treat those patients requiring surgery for heart and lung disease without COVID and whose needs are equally urgent.

“Mrs Theaker’s treatment has only been possible with the dedication and hard work of every member of the cardiothoracic team.”