A former mayor who was just moments from death has said thank you by handing £1,500 to the cardiac surgeon who saved his life.
Leonard Jolley, the former Mayor of Wyre, was rushed to Blackpool Victoria Hospital last June when his aorta artery tore away from his heart, leaving him just moments from death.
But he says his life was saved by his surgical team, led by consultant Nidal Bittar, who carried out a rare and complex eight-hour operation.
Father of two Mr Jolley, of The Strand, in Fleetwood, said: “My life was in their hands and they gave it back to me.”
Mr Bittar and his colleague Andrew Duncan took part in a 350km Big Heart bike ride in Jordan in November, raising money for the Blue Skies Hospitals Fund to benefit patients of the Lancashire Cardiac Centre.
Mr Jolley pledged to support the duo, and this week handed over £1,500, which he raised with the help of the North Shore Masonic Lodge through events and coffee mornings. The money means Mr Bittar and Mr Duncan have raised a total of £15,000 with their bike ride.
He added: “The consultant and his theatre team did an excellent job and now I have a future to look forward to. I wanted to give something back to them, so when I heard about the bike challenge I saw this as a great opportunity to help.
“Lancashire Cardiac Centre did an amazing job in restoring me to full health. I am a survivor because of the actions of Mr Bittar and his team. It makes me very humble to have been able, with the help of the Masonic Lodge, to raise this money, which I know will go to help many more people.”
Mr Duncan said: “This money will go towards increasing the work we are doing and help keep us as one of the leading cardiac centres in the UK.”
The regional centre of excellence, based at The Vic, caters for cardiac and lung patients across the North West.
Mr Duncan said: “We have been overwhelmed by how generous Lancashire people are. Our patients really got behind us and lots of them made huge efforts to fund-raise.”
Head of fund-raising Kathy Ancell said: “This is a fantastic amount. Thank you very much to Mr Duncan and Mr Bittar, who underwent a hugely difficult physical challenge, and to people like the Masonic Lodge and Mr Jolley who supported them.”