Heart surgery joy for family

Margaret Taylor (centre) at home after having TAVI treatment which was initially being refused
Margaret Taylor (centre) at home after having TAVI treatment which was initially being refused
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A FAMILY is celebrating after a great grandmother received a life saving heart operation.

But six months ago, Margaret Taylor feared she would not see Christmas after developing a problem with her aortic valve.

Doctors told the 94-year-old, she would need a TAVI (transcatheter aortic valve implantation). As it is not currently routinely commissioned in the North West, she was forced to apply for treatment through the primary care trust’s specialist patient panel.

But despite NHS North Lancashire refusing her application because her case was not “exceptional”, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust managed to fund the treatment.

The sprightly pensioner, who had the operation in November, has now fully recovered and is living independently at her Cleveleys home.

The great-grandmother said: “How can they judge who should live and who should die? I’m extremely grateful to the people who came up with the money. The cardiologist, and the staff at the hospital are gorgeous.

“I was wheezing and gasping for breath before, now I get out and about and I drive my car. It’s given me my life back. I feel wonderful.”

Mrs Taylor’s family are now demanding to know why she was refused the treatment by NHS North Lancashire.

Son Chas Taylor added: “If she is not exceptional in still being independent and in general very good health and mental state at 94 then just what is exceptional?

“It has completely changed her quality of life and longevity shouldn’t be at the mercy of bureaucratic panels.”

NHS North Lancashire have so far declined eight out of 13 TAVI applications.

A spokesman said: “Requests for this procedure are considered through an exceptional case process.

“Exceptionality is considered solely in clinical terms.

“Personal, social or psychological circumstances will not be taken into consideration.

“Unfortunately, in the panel’s opinion, there was nothing in the clinical history of Mrs Taylor which made this case exceptional.”

Harry Clarke, director of operations for the trust, said: “Two years ago the trust agreed to fund a pilot study of TAVI. It was a new procedure and the centre agreed to fund a pilot scheme to prove the effectiveness of the operation.

“The trust continues to perform this procedure when funding has been agreed.”

In Blackpool, three patients were refused the treatment on January 11.

Bill Nickson, from Normoss, died while awaiting a decision on funding.