Former fireman, 91, fighting fit after heart op

Joseph Baines, heart patient
Joseph Baines, heart patient

A retired firefighter is recovering after undergoing a pioneering new type of heart surgery.

Joseph Baines, 91, is one of the oldest people in the north west to undergo the procedure at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s much-lauded cardiac unit.

The £52m centre, which will remain open despite government proposals to axe others across the country, is the only one in the north of England offering the surgery — called Anterior Right Thoracotomy (ART) — to replace a faulty aortic valve.

The new state-of-the-art approach, described as ‘minimally invasive’ because it is performed through a two-inch incision, was praised by Mr Baines, of Goosnargh.

He said: “I thought I was going to have to be cut open but there is a tiny scar and you wouldn’t know I’d had anything done.

“It’s brilliant what they do here and I am amazed how well everything has gone.

“I couldn’t have had any better treatment if I was royalty.”

Surgeon Joe Zacaharias added: “The least invasive way to replace an aortic valve is through this new technique. The procedure has a lower risk of blood loss and infection.”

Mr Zacaharias said older patients are usually sent off for a different type of procedures, but due to Mr Baines’ good health, it was decided he could have the ART surgery instead.

He added: “Mr Baines is amazingly fit and that helped us decide that this was the right thing to do for him.”