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Grantham woman undergoes major heart surgery in new BBC television documentary

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A Grantham woman’s major heart operation is to be broadcast in a new series of a medical documentary on BBC Two.

‘Surgeons: At the Edge of Life’ will go behind the scenes of the operating theatres at Royal Papworth Hospital, a world-leading heart and lung hospital based in Cambridge which treats patients from across the East of England, including Lincolnshire.

In episode one, broadcast on Thursday, November 11 , Verity Connor, 33 at the time of filming, will have lifesaving surgery on her aorta, the main artery in the body.

Verity Connor. (52997456)
Verity Connor. (52997456)

Her aorta has almost doubled in size due to a female-only genetic condition called Turner Syndrome, which affects about one in every 2,000 baby girls.

Verity, a receptionist, said: “I was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome when I was five years-old.

“It is an inherited condition and means that you only have one normal X sex chromosome rather than the usual two.

Ravi de Silva (52997475)
Ravi de Silva (52997475)

“As a result, my aorta became enlarged and was in danger of fatally rupturing.”

In the episode, Verity’s surgeon, Mr Ravi de Silva, needs to replace her diseased section of the aorta with a synthetic one. At the same time, he wants to save her aortic valve rather than put in a mechanical one, which would come with higher risks. However, to do so means a much more complex procedure.

Mr de Silva said: “Every operation comes with its challenges, but in Verity’s case the real skill is in repairing the valve in her heart rather than simply replacing it. If the repair is not perfect, then the surgical team faces another long and complicated procedure to rectify the problem and may eventually have to admit defeat and replace the valve.

“The reason for wanting to repair rather than replace is because there is more risk of infection with a foreign object such as a mechanical heart valve.

"It would also mean for Verity a lifetime of taking the blood thinning drug warfarin, which would not be ideal for someone so young.”

Verity added: “I had to put my trust in the wonderful team at Royal Papworth Hospital to be able to live life without worry again. You will have to watch the episode to see how things go.”

The episode is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer. Visit www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0011h2c/surgeons-at-the-edge-of-life-series-4-episode-1

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