The NHS at 70: War hero hails expert heart centre after becoming one of the oldest to get specialist procedure

Philp Kenyon with members of the TAVI team at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre. From left: Collette Remmett, Dr David Roberts, Dr Andrew Wiper, Dr Chris Rozario and Kate Lee
Philp Kenyon with members of the TAVI team at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre. From left: Collette Remmett, Dr David Roberts, Dr Andrew Wiper, Dr Chris Rozario and Kate Lee
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A war hero who helped defeat the Nazis following D-Day has praised the ‘absolutely brilliant’ NHS, after becoming one of the oldest people in Lancashire to have a specialist heart procedure.

Philip Kenyon’s daring and spirit in June 1944, when he helped capture the French port of Cherbourg with the Royal Engineers, came four years before the National Health Service was even born – and led to him being awarded France’s highest military distinction for his ‘acts of the utmost bravery’.

And the 93-year-old’s service to his country was re-paid when medics at the specialist Lancashire Cardiac Centre, based at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, gave him a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI).

The procedure, which has been undertaken at the specialist unit for a decade now, is performed when patients are too sick, frail, or old for open-heart surgery, and sees a valve inserted via a cut in the groin.

More than 450 people have had the procedure since 2008 – and it has been credited for a better recovery when compared to major heart ops.

Mr Kenyon, who was given the Legion d’honneur in Liverpool in 2016 for his role in liberating France and delivering a hefty blow to Hitler’s army, said: “I feel great now and it is all thanks to the people at the Cardiac Centre.

“They have all been absolutely brilliant with me and I can’t thank them enough for the care they have shown me.”

Dr Chris Rozario, a consultant cardiac anaesthetist at the unit, said staff were ‘delighted’ to see treatment given to Mr Kenyon, from Preston, go ‘so well’.

“He is a pleasure to speak to and he has some amazing stories of his time in the army,” he said.

“He is a national hero and we are honoured to have been able to help him.”

The Gazette successfully campaigned to get several local elderly patients the procedure after they were originally turned down on the grounds of cost.

Health bosses acted in the name of compassion – undoubtedly saving lives in the process – by making a U-turn at a special meeting in 2011.

They approved funding for the £25,000 procedure after Clarice Richardson, then 82, from Norbreck, appealed to NHS Blackpool’s specialist patient panel.

Speaking at the time, the Cardiac Centre’s consultant cardiologist Dr David Roberts, said: “It is tremendously good news for patients. It will save lives, but importantly it will improve the quality of life.”

And he recently said the 10-year milestone was ‘a big landmark, not just for our team, but for patients and the medical profession alike’.

He added: “The introduction of this procedure has made a huge difference to heart valve disease patients in the Lancashire area, offering an extremely important treatment option for those unable to undergo open heart surgery.

“We are proud to offer a procedure which gives these patients the best chance to lead a longer and better quality of life.”