Meet the patients: Dr Tony Tyrrell

Cardiac patient Tony TyrellDr Tony Tyrrell has just returned home after his fourth major heart operation, but he won't let it hold him back for long - especially now he has a six-month-old grandson, Issac, to spend time with.

Tony, 65, form Highfield in Southampton, said, "I'm not worried by surgery, it has to be done. I just get on with it. Keeping fit and active has certainly helped me recover though, and I couldn't have got through it without the support of my family - particularly my wife Sue."

The retired chemistry and photography teacher was told he had a heart murmur when he was 11 years old. He continued to play sport, including county-level rugby, but at 16 he was advised to give up contact sports because of his heart.

Tony says he ignored his heart condition and got on with his life, until he collapsed while teaching, aged 35. He then had his first major operation, to close a hole in his heart, at a London hospital.

In  the last ten years he has had three further operations at SUHT, to replace valves and close holes. Earlier this year Tony developed a dangerous infection called endocarditis, after being bitten by a horsefly. The infection weakened the previous repairs to his heart. He spent ten weeks in hospital and during eight hours of surgery, Marku Kaarne replaced his previous prosthetic heart valves, reinforced his aorta and patched holes that had previously been closed.

Tony said, "I have never let my condition affect what I wanted to do and never used it as an excuse for not trying, although none of it would of been possible without the kindness and skill of the staff at Southampton General Hospital."

Now he has recovered from his latest surgery, Tony has finished walking the Dorset coast path with his wife and has returned to his charity work as a volunteer tool refurbisher and chair of Tools for Self Reliance.

He said, "I'm not one for moping around - there are lots of things I still want to do."

This story was first published in Connect magazine.