19th April 2024

On Sunday 21st April, Matt Burke will be running the Shakespeare Marathon to say thanks for the care his mum Lorraine received at the Bristol Heart Institute. Lorraine had open heart surgery at the hospital after being diagnosed with Ebstein's Anomaly.

Can you tell us about how your mum got diagnosed?

Mum knew she had a heart murmur from a young age but the doctors said it was nothing to worry about back then. It's quite incredible to think that she's run marathons without thinking, with what was believed to be a murmur.

About five years ago she was becoming increasing fatigued. Having lived an active life, she knew something was up. She thought it best to check with a doctor and one thing led to another, and countless scans later, she was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease called Ebstein's Anomaly with severe regurgitation of the tricuspid valve. It was simplified to us that half of her heart wasn't working properly.Lorraine had surgery at the BHI

How has this affected you and your family?

We were all in shock. You never think anything will go wrong, especially with your parents, and even if something does happen, never to this severity. Personally, I was terrified at first. It's hard not to spiral in these situations and let your mind wander to the worst eventuality. It's the first time I contemplated losing a parent, which is a horrible thought. We all know it will happen one day, but if you're lucky it's not something you're aware of in your 20s.

But you also learn you have to be strong for that person. Mum's strength came in abundance. It's quite amazing how she handled it all really. She'd read up on what was going to happen, so much so that I'm almost certain she could have done the operation herself! She was, and is, incredible. Her positive attitude helped us a family too. Her confidence about it all radiated through to us.

What treatment did she have?

She had open heart surgery to repair the tricuspid valve, which involved using her own tissue without the need for a replacement valve or a pacemaker. She was in the cardiac intensive care unit for 24 hours, then she moved to a high-dependency unit for two days, and then onto the heart recover ward for eight days. After her operation, her heart rate was raised on the general ward and she nearly had an inversion. Fortunately, the team were able to bring her heart rate back down to normal.

She was looked after by two teams, the adult congenital heart disease team and the surgical team.

Were there any standout team members?

Dr Caputo. He did Mum's operation and from what I hear, it wasn't as straight forward as they first predicted, but thankfully he was able to operate without any issues.

In all honesty, the whole team were amazing. From catering and cleaning to the nurse staff - they were all incredible. I never got the chance to thank Dr Caputo in person, but hopefully this money helps the team continue the great work they do.

Is there anything in particular you'd like to say to these staff members?

You've helped our family through the toughest thing we've faced. You do this every day without question and often without recognition. It's unbelievable. I can't really thank you enough.

How are you feeling about the marathon?

I'll be a proud man when I complete it! I've always exercised in my life, but I've never had a goal like this. Who knows how I'll be on the finish line, but it'll be great to have Mum there to support me on the day. That will keep me going!

Sponsor Matt's marathon

Sign up for your own challenge