Mending UK’s broken hearts

John Dean, British Heart Foundation
John Dean, British Heart Foundation

A HARTINGTON man who underwent a life-saving operation is backing a new research project aimed at mending broken hearts.

John Dean knows first-hand the impact heart disease can have on a family.

Believing he was extremely fit, playing squash regularly, circuit training at a gym near his workplace and jogging for fun, John discovered after a health check in 1986 that he had a slight heart abnormality. As a result, he underwent a quadruple by-pass at Guy’s Hospital in London

This is one of the reasons why he is supporting the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) new programme of research in regenerative medicine to find a cure for debilitating heart failure.

The Mending Broken Hearts project will involve stem cell research and developmental biology to work out how to repair or replace damaged heart muscle – and literally ‘mend broken hearts’ in as little as ten years time.

John, who will not directly benefit from the appeal, joined his local branch of BHF in St Albans soon after his operation because he wanted to “give something back”. Having moved to Derbyshire, he is now a member of the Ashbourne branch.

“As well as supporting BHF, a major advantage has been the forging of new valuable friendships and I would urge people to back this new campaign to help vital medical advances,” he said.

The number of people dying of heart disease in High Peak has fallen from 252 in 1994 to 154 in 2008, but the number of people across the UK who survive a heart attack and now live with heart problems has continued to rise since the 1960s.

To fund the programme, the charity is encouraging people to support its Mending Broken Hearts Appeal. The five-year fundraising campaign coincides with the BHF’s 50th anniversary.

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF, said: “Scientifically, mending human hearts is an achievable goal and we really could make recovering from a heart attack as simple as getting over a broken leg. But we need to spend £50 million to make this a reality.”

To support the appeal, call 0300 333 0333 or visit bhf.org.uk/mbh to order an appeal pack.