Pioneering heart surgery patient celebrates 50 years celebrates

30/4/13  Terence Vinters  from Knaresborough  who had heart surgery in Leeds 50 years ago.
30/4/13 Terence Vinters from Knaresborough who had heart surgery in Leeds 50 years ago.

A Knaresborough man has spoken out about his pioneering heart surgery 50 years later.

Terrence Vinters was just 23 years old when he fell ill and had to undergo emergency heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.

As a 23-year-old Mr Vinters was working on a building site and has called in at The Board Inn pub after work.

Having tasted blood in his mouth Mr Vinters went home to his in-laws who called a doctor and he was admitted to the former Scotton Banks hospital.

“The doctor tested me and thought initially it was tuberculosis, of course back then Scotton Banks was a TB specialist hospital.

“But it wasn’t TB, it was my heart.”

Mr Vinters was then transferred to the LGI and was taken in for surgery just two days after his birthday.

Mr Vinters was admitted into the care of Dr Geoffrey Wooler, a pioneering heart surgeon who went on to write a book on the topic.

Mr Vinters said: “I was admitted into the doctors care and I didn’t know what was going to happen to me.

“I wasn’t scared but I wondered if the surgery was going to work.”

Mr Vinters had been told the operation to open up one of his heart valves had a 50/50 chance of survival and had been trialled for the first time just six years previously.

He said: “Lots of people are scared of surgery but just look at me 50 years on.

“People don’t believe it that I’m this well after all these years.

“No-one knew how it was going to last and things have now changed so much, it’s no longer a 50/50 chance.”

He added: “Its amazing to think how it’s done now, with keyhole surgery there is hardly a scar.”

Mr Vinters was left with 148 stitches after the surgery which took place in 1963.

Although Mr Vinters feels he is lucky to be alive he admits that the operation has affected his life.

He said: “I’ve still got to take medication after all these years and I can’t do a lot of exercise, but I do a lot of walking and always have.

In 2006 Mr Vinters had heart problems for a second time and was taken to Harrogate District Hospital where he was fitted with a pacemaker. He said: “I have had two other friends of mine had heart surgery since me.My message to people is just not to be scared.”

The 73-year-old said he is well known in Knaresborough because of the surgery and has been gifted many heart foundation badges from people he knows. He said: “I wear them all with pride as a way of telling people not to be afraid.”