Rebecca John

Age: 15

My name is Rebecca John and I am 16 years old as I am writing this. I have Marfan’s Syndrome and a dilated aorta which is why I was recommended the PEARS procedure. After several doctor’s appointments including appointments with Dr. Conal Austin (who would be operating on me) I was ready for the surgery which would be at Evelina London Children’s Hospital. Before the operation I also had to do pre-op tests and was shown the ExoVasc that would be used. Even though I was nervous, I found the procedure very interesting and read up on it so that I would know what was going on.

I had the procedure done on September 6th, 2018 when I was 15. While I wasn’t too worried about the surgery, I was scared that it would take a long time to recover as it was already the first day of term and I didn’t want to miss important lessons since I had GCSEs to sit that year. Since I have had an eye operation before I knew what it would be like to go under anaesthesia but having heart surgery was a completely different experience.

The first memories I had after the surgery was in the ICU and my parents asking me if I was okay, apparently I had been conscious before that but I didn’t have any memory of it. Shortly after, I had the chest tube taken out by the nurses. They explained to me that it was there to collect fluids during and after the surgery. It was very painful but only for the short while that it was being taken out. After that I was given a morphine button that I could press to relieve the pain.

The next morning, I had my stitches removed and spent most of the day in bed since I still felt exhausted. However by the evening I had my catheter removed and the next day I was moved to the children’s ward. After I was moved I started to go for small walks around the hospital and I had more energy. However, I still found it difficult to get up since there was a lot of strain on my torso. I wanted to be discharged as soon as possible because I wanted to go back to school, even though I would have to stay at home for a while before I could return.

After showing the doctors that I was well enough to walk around and going through some final checks to see if the ExoVasc was working properly I was discharged. I had spent four days in the hospital and I was glad that the recovery from the surgery was so fast. I had to rest at home for two weeks and although I still had a pain in my chest it was quickly fading away. By the end of the second week I was already attending lessons. As of writing this I have gotten my GCSE results and am attending college with no physical difficulties. Although I was worried about the scar on my chest at first it has already faded a lot and I’m no longer self- conscious about it.

I would like to thank all the staff at Evelina London Children’s Hospital for allowing me to recover so quickly, as well as Dr. Austin and Tal Golesworthy for helping me to get this procedure done.

Year of operation: 2018