After 60 years of marriage Eric and Margaret Leeper are no strangers to sharing a hug.
But such a simple gesture proved lifesaving for Eric, 81, of Glasgow, when his wife noticed his heart sounded very different to normal.
“We were on holiday and I was giving him a cuddle when I noticed a peculiar noise coming from his heart,” said Margaret.
Tests revealed the retired engineer was suffering from a narrowed heart value, but due to his age and the fact he had previously undergone a quadruple heart bypass the odds of him surviving further open heart surgery were not good.
Experts agreed that the only way forward was a TAVI (transcatheter aortic valve implantation). But this highly skilled procedure was not available in Scotland.
The couple did their research and asked to be referred to Dr Muir at James Cook. The TAVI was performed in November and four days later Eric was fit enough to return home.
“Even though we are older we still want a good quality of life and we feel this has given us that again,” said Eric, who keeps fit by enjoying a regular round of golf and playing bowls.
“The results were amazing. As soon as I came round from the anaesthetic I felt better. I could breathe much better. I feel on top of the world.”
Margaret added: “Without the TAVI Eric could have suffered life threatening heart failure but just look at him now. Relatives cannot get over the difference in him.
“When I cuddle him now it sounds like a heart again!”