Phil's story: the day my daughter saved my life

Two years ago father of three Phil Nash was a picture of health. So when he found out he had a blocked artery and needed urgent life-saving open heart surgery, he couldn’t believe it. 

52 year old Phil Nash had been out running with his 16 year old daughter the day his life changed. 

Mid way through the run, he mentioned he had been feeling a slight strain on his chest for months, so his daughter urged him to go and see a doctor.  

“She said I really should get it checked out. Men aren’t very good at going to hospital or doctors, but I figured I may as well.”

A stress test on a treadmill was enough to raise the alarm, and he was referred to a cardiologist. 

“I had an 80 per cent blockage at the junction of two main arteries in the left side of the heart and they couldn’t put a stent in because if they did it would have blocked off one of the two main junctions. So the doctor said, ‘We’re going to have to open your chest up’.”

“I said, ‘Really? You’re really going to have to do that?’ Then I fainted. Because I completely freaked out. I could not believe that you could be fit like I was but have heart disease.”
Phil in ICU
Phil had been running twice a week, swimming twice a week, and going to the gym twice a week. He was just unlucky.

“The doctor told me what would have happened if I didn’t seek help, I would have gone out for a run in a few months’ time and just would have keeled over. Bang. That was going to be it. Because it would have blocked everything.”

“I told my daughter she was a hero, she saved my life. I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor otherwise. If she hadn’t said, ‘Hey we should check this out’.”

The operation involved disconnecting Phil’s heart from the rest of his body and using a machine to keep Phil’s vital organs operating, while doctors re-directed one of his other arteries to supply blood to the heart, bypassing the blockage. 
Phil and daughter body size
At any point in time, if even just one of the arteries started leaking, Phil could have easily bled to death. But doctors had spare blood supplies ready to go to keep him alive, and the operation was a success.

Those supplies had been generously donated by ordinary members of the public. 
 
“My wife has become a blood donor since the operation, it’s her way of giving back to society,” he said. 
 
In Australia a blood donation is needed every 24 seconds – that’s about 25,000 every week. 
 
One in three Australians will need a blood transfusion or product in their lifetime, but only one in 30 will actually give blood.
 
The Australian Red Cross Blood Service has been experiencing a gradual decline in the number of new blood donors, and has launched a new campaign urging first-time donors to make a life-saving decision. 
 
Bupa’s national Medical Director Tim Ross says it’s one of the greatest gifts anyone can give. 
 
“How many other things in your life can you do which will save a life? You might learn CPR and save someone’s life once, if you’re lucky. But by giving blood each donation you give could impact on the health and even life of up to 20 people.”
 
Many organisations including Bupa have joined the fight, ‘donating’ the blood type letters B, A, and O from their logos for the week.
 
If you think you might be able to help, visit donateblood.com.au/missingtype or call 13 14 95 to find out if you’re able to donate, and to make an appointment.
 
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