Fundraising after Harrogate man’s sudden death at gym

Neil Davies and Kerry Waddington
Neil Davies and Kerry Waddington
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THE partner of a “fit and well” Harrogate man who died suddenly while exercising at a gym is raising awareness and funds for Heart Research UK.

Kerry Waddington’s partner Neil Davies, 42, collapsed on a running machine at The Hydro gym in Harrogate last January.

Staff and medics battled in vain to save care manager Mr Davies, who had suffered an aortic dissection – a tear in the inner layer of the aorta, the main artery which carries blood from the heart to the body.

Miss Waddington said: “Neil had no symptoms and he was fit and well. There was no warning at all – he was on the running machine and just collapsed.”

She is helping raise the profile of the rare condition as well as helping Yorkshire-based charity Heart Research UK.

The charity is funding masterclasses for surgeons to learn about aortic arch surgery so more patients can be treated using specialist techniques.

Miss Waddington said: “I had no idea that it is such a specialist area and not that many surgeons have dealt with it. That’s why Heart Research UK’s masterclasses are so important in spreading that expertise.”

Mr Davies’ parents, Janice and Keith Davies from Thornton Watlass near Bedale, said following their son’s death family members are going to be checked out for the condition.

Keith Davies said: “Neil crammed a lot into his 40 plus years. He was taken away from us and didn’t have a chance.”

He added: “If we can bring some awareness of aortic dissection through this experience then I’m sure Neil would be proud of that. It’s also nice that a local charity is involved too.”

Heart Research UK is holding its third masterclass in aortic arch surgery on November 11 when surgeons from across the country will attend the specialist centre at the University of Liverpool to learn new techniques and treatments of the aorta.

Deborah Harrington, consultant cardiac and aortic surgeon at the Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, who leads the Heart Research UK masterclasses, said most aortic dissection patients will die without emergency surgery.

She said: “Our key message is awareness of aortic dissection both within the medical profession and the general public. If they think of it, then people have a much higher chance of having an accurate diagnosis made and then having successful treatment.”

She said unless surgeons work in a specialist centre like Liverpool they will never see the technique used until they have to do it in an emergency, which is not the best time to be doing a first operation of this kind.

She added: “The idea in the masterclasses is that people will be able to see the technique, and also practise it under expert guidance, which is the best way to learn.”

Miss Waddington’s fundraising efforts include taking part in Heart Research UK’s Swim the Channel challenge at Harrogate’s Hydro pool.

She also held a cake sale at Harrogate financial advice company Ellis Bates, where she works as an adminstrator.

To support Miss Waddington’s fundraising, go to www.justgiving.com/Kerry-Waddington1

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