Keyhole surgery has heart patient Kenneth Keay hiking days after bypass op
GRANDAD Kenneth Keay has become one of the first patients in Britain to have revolutionary heart surgery.
Medics have performed the single coronary bypass operation on the 60-year-old using keyhole surgery.
And just three weeks after suffering his heart attack and having the treatment, Kenneth is now well enough to go on seven-mile walks.
The surgery was carried out at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, which along with hospitals in Edinburgh and Bristol, are the only UK centres offering the treatment.
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Around 400 traditional heart bypass operations are carried out at the Hartshill complex every year.
The traditional operation involves doctors getting to the diseased heart by sawing through a person's breast bone.
But with keyhole surgery Kenneth needed just a two-inch incision in the left side of his chest. Two ribs were then prised apart to create a tunnel into the heart to use keyhole instruments up to a foot long.
Unlike most bypass surgery where a machine takes over blood pumping duties, Kenneth's heart continued to beat normally throughout the three-hour operation as medics stitched into place blood vessels only two-millimetres thick.
Kenneth, of Whiston, who ran his own pottery firm in Longton, is one of just five patients to so far have the new-style surgery at Hartshill.
Kenneth, who had also worked at Stoke pottery firm Spode for 20 years, said: "For 30 years I have suffered pain that I put down to indigestion and I almost lived on Gaviscon.
"Even when I had a sensation like a fireball in my chest every day while on holiday at Lake Como this summer I put it down to Italian wine.
"Then after I had just started a hill walk in Ludlow it happened again and my girlfriend persuaded me to drive back to the University Hospital's accident unit.
"I was kept in and the doctor said my heart disease was too bad for medication or a stent.
"Surgery was the only option and they mentioned this minimal invasive procedure which had many benefits so I agreed at once. I had the operation on the Thursday and was back home on the Sunday pain-free.
"I am now walking between four and seven miles four days a week and haven't felt this good for years.
"I feel honoured to be a medical guinea pig."
The operation was performed by surgeon Lognathen Balacumaraswami, who spent a year perfecting the technique at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital before being appointed to the University Hospital in 2009.
It is hoped that around 80 heart bypass operations a year can be carried out using the keyhole technique because it slashes recovery times and the risk of infection.
Cardiologist Dr Adrian Large said: "This technique gives us a welcome extra option and eventually people too weak for conventional heart surgery could be suitable for this life-saving treatment."